Isaac J. Grossman is an avid outdoorsman and kosher caterer. Moish Zahler is a veteran organizer of hotel programs. Together, they want to whisk you away with the Great Kosher Escape—a new company that creates all-inclusive packages for Jewish vacationers who want adventure along with relaxation, entertainment, Torah enrichment and gourmet dining. The company is launching this summer with three programs: Mount Washington in New Hampshire, July 4-7; Shabbat Nachamu in the Poconos, August 16-18 (or 20); and Yosemite, the Redwoods and San Francisco, August 25-September 2.
“We are doing getaways not just based around food, although high end dining is a part of our program,” said Grossman. “We’re taking people to the wilderness where they can really enjoy nature.”
Grossman is an accomplished hiker and he wants to bring that joy to others. He has planned hikes in each location for those just starting out and for the very fit and active. Less strenuous optional activities are also on the agenda, like fishing, boating and horseback riding. Anyone who wants a more chill vacation can relax by a pool or go sightseeing. There are day camps for kids and coordinated activities for singles. And if you’re a family with a combination of interests, there’s something for everyone.
“We’re giving families a way to spend time together while each person can find his own way,” Grossman said.
While all the trips include meals, hiking and transportation to group activities, each one has a different atmosphere. Mount Washington is in the middle of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, with streams, forests and many activities nearby like ATVs, mountain climbing military jeeps, obstacle courses and ziplines. There are two hiking trails to the top of the mountain—one for novices and one on very advanced terrain for serious hiking enthusiasts. Non-hikers can take the famous Cog train, a scenic three to four hour ride to the top.
Shabbat Nachumu in the Poconos adds a dimension of celebration with a Carlebach Shabbos and a Yisroel Williger concert Motzei Shabbat. There will be an eruv around the entire Mount Laurel Resort for Shabbat walks on many trails in the 137 acre property. The resort has indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, horseback riding, hiking trails and mini golf. An extended program offers whitewater rafting, military dressed paintball, zipline or rock climbing.
The Great Kosher Escape’s summer finale is a trip to the Redwood Forest, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. Perhaps the most diverse of all the escapes, the trip starts at Yosemite where guests can choose between a campground and a hotel. Hikes through the mountains will be organized for all levels of ability. There will be tours of Napa Valley wineries, kosher wine tastings and balloon rides over the vineyards. A festive Shabbat will take place in San Francisco.
“The Yosemite trip is a bit more challenging so we don’t recommend bringing very young children,” said Zahler. “It will be a really special trip for families with older children, especially fathers and sons, before the school year begins.”
Grossman and Zahler are just getting warmed up. Plans are in the works for local New York cruises, international cruises, ski trips and programs combining vacation amenities with continuing education credits for physicians and therapists. For more information, visit www.thegreatkosherescape.com.
By Bracha Schwartz