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Kosher Bora Bora – Fantasy or Possibility?

Some people fantasize about Belgian chocolates and the latest Porsche 911 Turbo. Some crave a cottage with an Olympic-sized pool overlooking Lake Tahoe or maybe a month-long world cruise through the Caymen Islands.

Bora Bora Island

I’d like all the above, but I’d prefer….a month of quiet vacation on the beaches of Bora Bora. Blue skies, white sands, endless clear water, majestic palm trees…peace and quiet. Without my cell phone. No emails, no appointments, no prior commitments; just the gentle lapping of waves at my feet with the awesome view of the blue lagoon.

The thought of it puts me into a trance-like state of bliss.

Bora Bora By Samuel Etienne (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Bora Bora
Then logic kicks in and I remember….

  • I can’t afford the plane tickets.
  • I can’t afford the hotel fees.
  • I’ll have nothing Kosher to eat.
  • Most of the alcohol they drink while sitting in a beach chair with a platter of exotic fruit, isn’t Kosher either.
  • I won’t have a Minyan to pray at the local synagogue.
  • There isn’t a local synagogue on the island anyways.
  • I won’t be able to make Kiddush on Shabbos because the wine isn’t Kosher. Nor the Challah…
  • I can’t carry outside my hotel room on Shabbos because there isn’t an Eiruv around the town.
  • And besides, why in the world should a nice Jewish boy go to a place like Bora Bora? Don’t I know that most of the women don’t wear Sheitels and long sleeves on the island and the men don’t walk around with Tsitsis and probably aren’t Talmudic scholars either ??

So why Bora Bora?

Kosher Bora Bora
Four Seasons Hotel in Bora Bora

It’s in my soul. The island and surrounding are like Paradise. A very expensive bit of paradise. Anyone who isn’t well-heeled at the bank will end off with hell to pay on their credit card if they aren’t careful. So it’s a short-lived paradise at the very least, but nice indeed…

Although Bora Bora is out of my personal range, I’m still curious if one can manage there as an observant Jew (assuming of course that one keeps their gaze totally and absolutely on their own spouse and nobody else).

Kosher Solutions

I contacted a few of the hotels on Bora Bora to hear what they can offer in terms of Kosher food. One hotel said simply that due to their isolated location, they cannot give Kosher food as they don’t have someone to supervise the preparation nor do they have the utensils. OK, that’s not surprising.

Then I got a totally different response from the Head Chef of another hotel. The chef gave me 3 possible options.

  1. The hotel could provide brand new dishes and silverware along with new pots and pans. They have a Jewish employee who can light the fire and ovens to avoid Bishul Akum. Everything will be double wrapped in foil before putting in the oven. They’ll use only Kosher fish, vegetables and ingredients. All the cooking utensils will be hand washed and stored in a separate location.
  2. They can order frozen Kosher chickens from New York.
  3. With enough notice, they can order Glatt Kosher prepackaged meals.

To be honest I was very impressed. The chef even mentioned that as they don’t have a Mikvah on the island they won’t be able to immerse the new utensils (in fact as long as the utensils remain in the ownership of the hotel, they don’t need immersion in a Mikvah). One can see that he had a good basic understanding of the hotel Kashrut.

Just to be clear, I’m not giving the hotel a Kashrut certification on basis of what the chef wrote. There are many complex Kashrut issues involved that would need to be addressed and unless the guest in quite knowledgeable in hotel Kashrut, one can still trip up BIG.

So is Kosher Bora Bora just a fantasy or a possibility?

In my humble opinion, with an attitude like this chef, one has with whom to work with. There’s room for discussion and flexibility (on the side of the hotel of course), so I can imagine (in theory) that it would be possible to eat Kosher in Bora Bora.

I didn’t really go into it with the chef, but assume that whichever option one takes, it’ll cost something. But once you’re paying $1000 a night per guest, what’s another few bucks to eat Kosher? And you’ll probably get a bottle of Kosher wine for Kiddush thrown in for good measure…