I have been to many, many Pesach programs, all "Glatt Kosher" with "Top-notch Kashrus". The truth is, though, the quality of Kashrus varied greatly from program to program.
From several unpleasant experiences, I have gathered some questions to ask the Mashgiach and previous attendees of the program before you sign up:
- Who is the Mashgiach? Can you get references you trust? (The Yiras Shamayim of the Mashgiach will make the biggest difference.)
- Are the kitchen and dining room locked when the Mashgiach is not
present? Who has the keys?
- Will the Mashgiach notice if you bring your own food? (I once had a
Mashgiach who refused to allow our Heimish candy into the dining
room. That Mashgiach I trusted. Most places didn't notice.)
- What do they consider Kitniyos? (At a hotel overseas, the tables
were liberally decorated with fennel.)
- Non-food Kashrus: What is the story with electronic room keys?
Shabbos elevators? Pritzus? Music? Chillul Shabbos? General
atmosphere? (Note that these issues tend to be more problematic the first year a program occupies a hotel.)
- If you have children, are the counselors upstanding, healthy
teenagers, or poor role models running away from home? (Counselors
who smoke on Yom Tov, or drink, are not the people you want watching
- Is all the wine Mevushal? If not, is wine poured by waiters that are
not Shomer Shabbos?
- How is the lettuce checked for bugs? Which other sensitive
vegetables are used? How are they checked?
- Is the Matzah up to your standards? Do they have enough high-quality
Matzah for the whole Yom Tov? (We only eat Shmura, and the hotels
would sometimes run out.)
- Other food questions: Are the meals served with attention to the
relevant zmanim? How is the meat for the first night prepared?
(Many people hold that meat cooked with only a little liquid is not
acceptable for seder night.)
- A key question: How many mashgichim are there relative to the
number of kitchen staff, kitchens, and guests? (A Rabbi and two
assistants may be adequate for a 150-person, 1 kitchen hotel. A
larger hotel needs many, many more. Additionally, the assistants
must also be trustworthy and mature.) Do the guests constantly see
the Mashgiach around? (The dining room, that is. Not the lounge,
and not even the Shul/Beis Medrash.)
- Perhaps the most important question: Are the kitchen staff afraid
to disobey the Mashgiach? (The cook and waiters are the best people
to answer this question.)
- Halachik standards: Do they hold of pas yisrael, chalav yisrael,
gebrokts, chumros in bishul akum, etc.? (You will get easy answers
on these. If they can't tell you quickly and easily, that's a real
I hope these questions prove useful. These are the type of issues that are real problems in many "Glatt" hotels. These are also the kind of questions that are more likely to get accurate answers. Wishing you a Kosher Pesach!