Klal Yisroel descends on Orlando in En Masse, 100 km are expected for Pesach
(By Sandy Eller)
Corporations, caterers, and volunteer groups are among the many preparing for a busy Orlando Pesach. Up to 100,000 people make their way to central Florida.
With a few official hotel programs and an ideal Chol Hamoed for day trips, this year’s Pesach with Orlando as the epicenter caused the perfect storm. COVID-tired families longing for a change had their sights on the Sunshine State months ago. Some want to enjoy a relatively simple Jom Tov while others have found ways to create a more luxurious experience.
“Every jobless caterer has shown up in the market to offer full board,” Miami-based Dovid Goldwasser, who was actively involved in large-scale planning for Pesach in Orlando, told Yeshiva World News. “There are even people who do their own programs with chefs, party planners and waiters.”
Some private housing estates function solely as resort communities and set up one tent for a school and another for kiddushim. With certain developments, all of the food is pre-arranged and individually delivered to each home, with a full program schedule in place that includes day camps, shiurim, entertainment, and more. In recent years, kosher supermarkets in large Jewish communities have given shoppers the opportunity to ship their purchases to Orlando, and Goldwasser’s freight forwarding and logistics company had 12 trucks on the way by Tuesday afternoon carrying luggage, groceries, and cars for those in Orlando preferring privately to ship.
“There are so many ways to do this, whatever your budget, and there is an option for everyone,” explained Goldwasser.
[READ ALSO: PESACH DISASTER: Hundreds of Homes “Double-Booked” In Orlando, Many Left Without Place For Yom Tov]
After spending the last seven Pesachs in Orlando, Goldwasser has seen things explode in recent years, but the pandemic has taken things to an even higher level.
“A tremendous number of people rediscovered Orlando this year because it was the only option at the height of COVID,” noted Goldwasser. “Technically, you could be quarantined in your own house with your own pool and this year Orlando is on fire.”
Goldwasser remembered how in his first Pesach in Orlando two days earlier a member of the Hatzalah had approached him to suggest that they should work together as the Good Samaritans in an emergency. By the time they sat down to the seder, they had formed a network of more than 20 Hatzalah members who were ready to be available as rescue workers until 911 could respond to a call. While the network of Hatzalah members in Orlando does not act in any way as an established rescue service, 150 service calls were registered over Pesach in 2019, and Goldwasser estimates that there will be 160 Hatzalah members in 12 different holiday communities in this Pesach.
“It’s a numbers game for me,” said Goldwasser. “The more people there are, the more calls we get, but at the same time it also means that we will have more Hatzalah people on hand.”
Even while on vacation, Chaverim members are active in Orlando, responding to a variety of situations including car lockdowns, battery problems and flat tires. And since many kosher restaurants from other places understand that the infrastructure of Jewish restaurants in Orlando cannot possibly cope with the enormous influx of visitors, they send food trucks to Orlando to pick up additional shops via Pesach.
“There are Milchics, Fleishics, Ice Cream Van – you name it,” said Goldwasser. “We saw so many people who brought their businesses to Orlando via Pesach, from photographers to beauty makers and more. Everyone brings their talents to Orlando and since they’re there anyway they can serve the Klal and make some money. “
To reach Hatzalah in Orlando via Pesach, call 407 307 3600. Hatzalah also has a Chesed Fund page for donating.
To reach Chaveirim in Orlando via Pesach, call 407 3085857.
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)