As the school year comes to an end and families look forward to spending time together, plans are made to go away, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. We all deserve a break, and there is no better time than summer to take advantage of this opportunity. There are those who will travel to their summer homes or vacation at local scenic locations, while others will plan more exotic trips overseas, where they will stay at hotels or resorts.
Living life as a kosher observant Jew doesn’t only apply in our households but also outside our homes, in our daily lives, wherever we are. Going on vacation doesn’t mean that we take vacation from keeping kosher. Many questions arise with regards to kosher challenges while on the road, and below we highlight some of the most common ones.
We arrive in the hotel and wish to use the microwave, what next?
Kosherizing a microwave is a challenge as it needs to be spotlessly clean. An additional challenge is the convection fan at the back of some microwaves. It is therefore recommendable to double-wrap the item you wish to warm up (similar to what they do on airplanes), with microwaveable material.
May I use the coffee machines supplied in the hotel room?
One must check to ensure that only plain, unflavoured coffees are used in these machines, unless the coffee used bears kosher certification. Someone who is strict with Chalav Yisrael laws, should ensure that no dairy flavoured coffees were used on the machine. It is more common today to find Keurig machines in hotel rooms. While most of their flavours are kosher, and usually have a kosher symbol on the K-cup, some of flavours are dairy.
May I wash items in the sink?
As the sink is a non-kosher sink and may have been used to wash non-kosher items using hot water, kosher items may not be washed in the same sink, unless a kosherization procedure takes place, which is impractical in a hotel room. Therefore, disposable plates and cutlery are recommended in this case.
Staying in a hotel on Shabbos
While staying in a hotel over Shabbos, questions may arise with regards to the electronic door keys which are not permissible on Shabbos. Arrangements should therefore be made with the hotel staff to either provide a manual key (if these are available at the hotel), or have someone open the door when needed.
While traveling, it is common to order soft drinks, such as Coke and Pepsi with ice. One may not have the establishment add lemon or lime to these drinks, as these acidic fruit may have been cut with non-kosher knives, which would then render the fruit non-kosher. The same would apply to water dispensers containing slices of lemon, lime or orange.
Many hotels offer a free breakfast and one may certainly partake from the dried packaged cereals, which come in sealed boxes and often bear kosher certification. Some hotels even offer a menu showing what they serve and which certification the product bears. One should still check the individual package to ensure that it indeed bears kosher certification. One may not partake of the eggs, pancakes, waffles, and toasts, or any heated food made on hotel equipment.
It is important to note that some items produced in Canada, may not be kosher certified in the United States and vice versa, even if it is the same exact product.
It’s true that keeping kosher while travelling may sometimes prove to be challenging. However, there is a bevy of kosher products out there bearing reliable kosher certification, in most cities around the world. Let’s remember that the Torah and its laws apply everywhere, always