Finding the Perfect Passover Program

A friend writes: Steven Spielberg’s film “Jaws,” forever changed how people approach a beach vacation. Nothing like a shark to take the joy out of some long-planned relaxation. People that go to a hotel or program for Passover, have been planning for months for their “vacation of the year”. These programs have a high price tag and consumers have high expectations, but every year there are disaster stories that explode across social media. While there hasn’t been a reported Passover shark incident, some of the actual program fiascos can be described as stranger than fiction.

There was a program in a Mexican hotel where the operators left the premises early on the day after Pesach leaving behind a large balance with the hotel. The management put the hotel on lockdown and would only let guests leave after paying thousands of dollars on their credit cards. While many people managed to get those charges reversed, the experience was a nightmare for the guests. One program that rents out many homes within a complex and provides food and entertainment had the communal spaces confiscated in the middle of Pesach, allegedly due to lack of payment. There are also programs that promise the world and fall short on delivery, to the point where guests have headed into the kitchen to start cooking the meals – if there is not enough food. Not to mention the operators that cancel their planned programs for various reasons. Sometimes reserved guests get a refund and sometimes they don’t – at least right away. 

So how does someone going away for Pesach not only avoid a fiasco, but find the program that is perfect for them? Until now, it has only been through word of mouth and then just hoping for the best. For Passover 2020, there is – a beautifully designed, modern website built around five years of market research and the input of over 40 program operators.Brandyss Katz, Daniel Kramer and Doni Schwartz have independently been attending Passover programs at hotels for many years. In 2018, Katz founded the Facebook group, “Passover Program Reviews,” to connect with Pesach Vacationers across the globe. “The high growth and contribution rate within the group was an obvious message to us that there was a gap in the marketplace. There was not one website or publication to date that had combined revolutionary functionality for both the user and program owner,” explained Katz. Based on their considerable experiences and individual areas of professional expertise, they decided to help the industry as a whole by creating a one-stop-shop for consumers looking for their perfect Passover vacation.

“Our mission is to be the “Yelp” of Pesach programs,” said Kramer, “A place where people can write their honest reviews, and others can benefit from their experiences.  It is the only place where someone planning a Passover vacation can browse and sort programs according to their specific preferences.” 

Consumers can peruse over 80 programs listed world-wide with many program owners claiming their program listing.  They have over 250 reviews with additional reviews posted daily. Site visitors can click on a geographic location to view the programs that are available in a specific area, or, they can put in search criteria such as “mixed or separate swimming” and “daf yomi” to see what programs are a match for them. Each listing provides detailed information about the program that is either provided by the program or that has been obtained through the research of the site administrators. The reviews that follow give the additional details only someone that has experienced a program first-hand can provide.

“This website promises to be the Better Business Bureau of Pesach programs,” says Baruch Cohen, Esq. a litigator in Los Angeles that has worked both sides of many cases involving Pesach programs –in the court system and in Batei Din. “A program that doesn’t want to engage with a website like this, probably doesn’t have transparency and that should be an alarm for people to stay away. This website is long overdue – it most likely would have helped avoid the majority of lawsuits in the industry.” 

Owner of Regal Retreats, Dov Osina, is also excited about, “It’s a great place for us to get feedback – positive and negative- and for consumers to hear from people that were actually on the program. There are a minority of owners in the business that lack integrity, but that hurts all of us. A website of this nature is essential to cut down on the misinformation that is given to consumers.”

Program operators want nothing less than happy customers who found the right program for their family. Avrumy Jordan, operations director of the Diamond Club Passover Program in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic agrees. “A website like is a long time in coming, and I’m glad for consumers that it is finally here. As an operator, I hope it will direct people to the right place for them.”  Jordan shudders that some people may have had a bad experience because someone wanted to make a sale. He believes that the site will help people manage expectations and provide more honesty in the industry. “I trust the team running the website and that they have everyone’s best interests in mind. In the past, people could only look through a Jewish newspaper for program ads, now they have this tremendous tool where they can search for a program that has the things that are important to them. For an operator, it will really cultivate solid leads because someone already did the research and they are calling your program because they already know you have something, they are interested in.”

Spielberg has been spotted at multiple Passover programs over the years in Arizona. Although he was more likely to have an incident with some gefilte fish than a shark, one never knows if those tea room experiences might land in a film one day. In the meantime, if you’re looking to avoid a real-life drama, is the place to start planning for the perfect Pesach 2020.

Visit the site at

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WEHT To Pico-Robertson?


* To me it seems that Pico and especially Pico and Robertson by the Wallgreens is getting out of hand. Homeless people laid out on the sidewalk day and night. I saw a guy this morning who tipped over his cart of garbage and was spreading it over the entire sidewalk. When I am done typing this here I am calling 311 to see if they can clean this area with a power hose. It seems unclean, chaotic and an eyesore. Something has to change. We can’t go on living happily with this going on. The city must step in and do something to resolve this!

* I was on Pico at robertson last week, the sidewalk smelled of urine. It’s sad homeless have no where to go, sad shops don’t care to hose their sidewalks, they really don’t care. I won’t be shopping at Walgreen’s or the shops again.

* I had a shop just down the street from Walgreens on Robertson that we recently left since that part of the block is being torn down to build a hotel. Around early/mid August I began having problems with people loitering at our back entrance after hours. On one occasion I returned in the morning to find they vandalized my property and even left human feces for me to clean up as well as about 40 cigarette butts, whip cream bottles, and milk containers among other things. The neighbors confirmed it was the couple who have the really sweet dog that have been in this area for awhile now. I asked that they call the police next time they notice anyone on my property who shouldn’t be there. It’s one thing to need a place to sleep, but completely different when you vandalize and have a lack of respect for where you lay your head.

* Same problem in the alley alongside this property. Many homeless use the landscaped areas for toilets, and a couple of older men insist on defecating on the concrete wall, leaving soiled paper towels behind as well. Food containers, actual towels, whatever they dig out of my garbage and empty cans all along the alley on any given day. This occurred even when a port – a – potty was there that could have been used instead.
Being homeless should not = public health menace.

* When I went on my311 today someone had already called in the area in front of Pico and Robertson. I also put a call into the manager of Wallgreens yesterday and asked that as a business they also step beyond just their own property line but to act as neighbors in working with the city to help find some solutions (or at least not to let it get to the way it is now).

And to think we live in the “Pico/Robertson” area of Los Angeles… it is embarrassing to admit when you see the state of things.

Councilman Koretz’ Office would be a place to start. Perhaps one of his Field Deputies can be of assistance. But I also think the business and religious community on Pico also need to step up. This is happening right in front of their place of business and places of worship. Imagine sitting at a cafe and witnessing the things mentioned just in these few posts. Imagine going to worship and walking past this chaos and not having the inclination to reach out to others to get it changed for the better.

* Natalie, I clean the alley behind my condo on Corning and have done it for 20 years now. I do believe in “The Broken Glass Theory” which says that if a place looks un-cared for that it would be a welcoming place for crime and chaos. So, if you keep it orderly and clean, criminality and chaos seems to find another place to be. Somehow we have to get a constant consensus that this is serious. I think that SORO Neighborhood Council should be taking the lead on this. Robertson by Hamilton High School is seen as an area of focus with new money, but where is Pico and Robertson on the agenda, beyond Robertson Park?

* I don’t even feel safe walking with my kids alone on Saturday anymore. Our friend was recently grabbed by a man who was walking down the street. I still see him pacing back and forth all the time. There are people yelling and cursing and dirt everywhere and we see people urinating on the sidewalk. It’s awful. I hate to sound hopeless but I don’t even know who we can call or if anyone will listen to us.

* Its always been a sketchy corner… John Belushi used to buy heroin in the Miller’s Outpost parking lot in the same location.

* There is the same problem at night around the CVS on Pico at Stearns. Last night a man was demanding we get off his side walk as we were walking home. They like to set up camp on the backside of CVS on Stearns Dr. About a week ago, my neighbor found human feces in his driveway.

* What scares me is when I am parking in Walgreens parking lot, sometimes someone will bang on my window or wait outside my car and ask for money. I have started ordering online rather than go to Walgreens, amd I found a fabulous pharmacist that delivers (Pharmacy Depot). I hate to not support my local stores, but it got a bit disturbing going to this store….

* In the past the Manager of Walgreens has been willing to chase off trouble makers. I got him to kick out an religious loon who was pestering people in the lot. Staff may have changed, but in past the manager was pretty aggressive about the parking lot being private property.
Just email corporate off the web site – even a few emails get their attention. Pharmacy is a HIGHLY competitive business. – Although personally I think it would be better for our community if all took our rx biz to locally owned pharmacies like Hepps.

* Just the other day I went to Walgreens and got a really uneasy feeling about a guy who entered right after me & followed me around the store & his friend waiting for him out back at the car next to mine. (I asked the guy by the car if I could help him & he mentioned waiting for his friend). When I felt I was being followed in the store I asked another customer who was leaving if he could walk me to my car and I walked beside him as if I knew him, and then drove to the CVS further East on Pico. I’ll never go to that Walgreens again. Its filthy, there are people seemingly everywhere and I felt I was about to be mugged in broad daylight.

* My understanding is that some panhandlers like to go to this area because they know Jewish folks are more likely to give to the needy.

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Trapped At Tea Time

HFF Press Release- Trapped at Tea Time

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Good Vibes For 90035

The vibes get better west of Robertson Blvd and north of Pico Blvd.

From for 90035:

Pico-Robertson is ranked #25 in Los Angeles
Pico-Robertson is ranked #402 in California
Lots of Local Amenities
Sunny Weather
Stable Housing Market
Low Crime Rates

The population density in Pico-Robertson is 51% higher than Los Angeles.
The median age in Pico-Robertson is 9% higher than Los Angeles.
In Pico-Robertson 56.38% of the population is Caucasian.
In Pico-Robertson 20.41% of the population is African American.
In Pico-Robertson 7.94% of the population is Asian.

Cost of LivingF

Things To Do In Pico-Robertson
The Getty CenterAttractions » Historic Landmarks1200 Getty Center Dr, 90049 The Getty Center in Los Angeles is funded by a trust granted by billionaire oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty. The center is home to serene gardens, visiting art exhibitions from European collections, and the Research Library located inside the Getty Research Institute. Visitors may attend free concerts, film expos, art galleries, and enjoy sweeping views over the city of Los Angeles. The Getty Center in Los Angeles is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive. Visitors must access through the main gate on N. Sepulveda Boulevard and general admission is always free. The Getty Center parking fee is $15. In addition, guests may utilize public transportation to this attraction via the L.A. Metro Rapid Line 781 which provides a convenient stop at The Getty Center’s main gate. The Getty Center is opened 10:00 a.m.�5:30 p.m on Tuesdays through Sundays and is closed on most major holidays.

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Rabbi Gabe Elias Is Sitting On The Bimah At Beth Jacob Saturday Morning

Sandy says:

Yup, Rabbi Elias has “retired”, and was given a warm welcome upon returning to Beth Jacob, the shul where he grew up. I heard that the cantor of the Ashkenazi minyan was also let go. But the Mogen David website has not been updated.

They [Mogen David] never really have distinguished themselves from YICC or Beth Jacob, the two shuls most similar in practice to MD’s Ashkenazi minyan. A lot of the regulars are guys who used to go to YICC or BJ, and either live closer to MD or are old buddies with Rabbi Elias (or their wives are).

One unsung hero of Mogen David’s Ashkenazi minyan is their Torah reader, Aaron Breitbart. Aaron is about as self-deprecating a fellow as you’d ever meet, with a great sense of humor backed up by an academic’s intellect.

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Hidden Gems In Jewish 90035

I asked friends and they responded:

* The closest thing that comes to mind, that not everyone knows about, is Global Kindness (Nouriel & Yael Cohen).

* How could I forget Beit Chayim Chadashim!!!
The shul with the most closets.

* Pico Shul?
The 3-4 minyanim at the 770 building
The Chassidisha minyan on Pico and Crest
The Shuls with over 300 ppl are not “hidden”

Benny’s minyan maybe
The downstairs minyan at BethAm
Tomchei Shabbos
Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch
Rabbi Shoff’s shul near crescent heights

* There are reportedly a couple of minyanim that are more “equal” that take place at Workmans Circle. Contact them. One is called “The Shtiebel Minyan”.
Knesset Israel on Robertson Blvd (The Soro area) is the oldest shul in the area – and has Rabbi Jason Weiner who is a gem and was just elected head of the Board of Rabbis of So Calif. He is the up-and-coming superstar of the PicoRob Rabbinate. They reportedly have the best bourbon in town at the Kiddush. The memorial plaques on the walls go back to the late 1800’s.
Chabad of Beverlywood also on So Robertson has by far the best equipped children’s playground in the area. A big hug from Rabbi Dov is a free benefit to those men who attend.

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The Dangerous Driving Of

Around 7:15 this evening, as I was driving east on Olympic Blvd just passed Beverly Drive, I was repeatedly cut off and endangered by the reckless driving of half a dozen minibuses carrying the logo I saw several of them run red lights, including at the intersection of Olympic and Doheny (by Beth Jacob and Hillel day school).

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Mentally Unstable Woman seen again on South Wooster

Post: Last September, my boyfriend and I found a middle aged mentally unstable woman sleeping on our front porch multiple times. We called the cops a dozen times in a month but they weren’t able to do anything because our building didn’t have the appropriate signage to arrest her for trespassing (even though she used our door as a restroom and would use very violent language when she was found). In speaking with neighbors on Wooster, I found out that she has been found in dozens of other buildings in the neighborhood and even attempted to assault a landlord. He got a restraining order against her and she eventually went to jail. Sadly she was released recently and her elderly mother (a resident of Wooster near Whitworth) has taken her in once again. Her name is Reyna Woodruff, she is 65 years old, 5’4″, 100 lbs, dark hair with gray streaks. She is a repeat offender with many charges, even an unrelated felony. She is not someone we want roaming around in the neighborhood. It’s clear she is most likely mentally unstable and gets confused easily but she can get aggressive and angry. I wasn’t able to get a proper picture of her while she was yelling at me this evening as we found her again in our garage, using it as a restroom. We told her this was not her property and she yelled but eventually went away. When we first encountered her last year, we tried to help her but she would yell at us. Normally I would feel badly for someone in her situation but it makes me feel unsafe to know that she is back, and the police are unable to do anything about it. If you see her, stay away and stay safe. If anyone has any advice about how to properly handle this, we would love to know.

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Rental Scam

Post: House rental scam here at 8917 Cattaraugus Avenue

Description of person involved – Other details: The house at 8917 Cattaraugus Avenue sold a few weeks ago after sitting in Escrow for awhile. The tenants are long gone and Dan May was the agent who sold it. This afternoon an asian woman with a thick accent pulled up in a nice new car and looked at the house, then asked me about “the rental.” She had contacted someone from an ad for a cheap rental property ($1000/month), was told the rental cost was First and Last Month Rent, and $500 cleaning deposit ($2500). She was told not to bother the current tenants because they are still living there. She said she was ready to send them the money. I told her to go to the Police. My wife left a message with Dan May on his service. There is a largish sign on the bay window on the front of the house that says NOT FOR RENT!! IT’S A SCAM … I don’t know what else to do. Anybody?

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Apartment Break-In On Bedford Near Olympic

Post: I live on Bedford Street. My apartment was broken in and I was robbed last night. If anyone who lives in the area…saw or heard anything suspicious near my building please contact me. I believe it was a 2 person job, one helped the other break into my bedroom window. In the alley way. It was a quick robbery.
I called Police.

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