Welcome, Guest! - or
Easy to remember!  »  VinNews.com

Scoul, Switzerland - Swiss Resort Attracting Orthodox Tourists

Published on: July 20, 2009 08:56 AM
Change text size Text Size  
Bookmark and Share
The Scuol PalaceThe Scuol Palace

Scoul, Switzerland - “Europe’s largest kosher hotel” is attracting more and more orthodox Jews to Scuol, a remote Swiss mountain village.

The Scuol Palace , where Lower Engadine spa tourism originated 150 years ago, has been run by Abraham Friedman and his wife Zipora for around three years.

The wings of the building, which rises like a yellow colossus from the surrounding pines and larches, act like a giant protective wall, protecting the river and its countless springs.

The street leading to the 120-room hotel is filled with men with sidelocks, long beards and skullcaps, wearing black coats and rucksacks. They have hiking sticks and are focused on the hiking path.

Advertisement:

The beer taps beloved of previous tourist groups have run dry and been replaced by tea, coffee and cake.

In the mahogany dining hall large orthodox families and young couples eat kosher pies from France – Switzerland has banned the practice of cutting an animal’s throat so that it bleeds to death (kashrut, or Jewish dietary law, prohibits the slaughter of an unconscious animal).

A guest in a ski jacket is checking his emails; in the synagogue some men are swaying backwards and forwards in prayer; a sign on the door of the swimming pool displays the separate times for men and women – and the glass walls are draped with protective foil.

Some of the more revealing stucco decorations on the walls have also been covered.
Status symbol

What attracts Jewish guests, especially from Israel and the United States, to this remote valley?

“For Israeli holiday makers Switzerland is a status symbol,” said Shoshana, the owners’ 30-year-old daughter, who helps out in reception.

She added that Israelis appreciate the many possibilities for hiking or going on a trip, in addition to the pleasant temperatures in summer.

Jewish tourists also come to the Scuol Palace because it has the infrastructure that lets them enjoy their holiday without having to neglect their religious duties: there are three synagogues, a library and a mikvah, a ritual bath.

The kosher cuisine also plays a central role.

“It’s practical to stay here because we can eat kosher without having to live off salad, fruit and tinned food,” said one Israeli ski tourist.


Kosher

A supervisor is employed in the kitchens to ensure that the food is indeed kosher. Under dietary law, this includes turning the ovens on and off for the non-Jewish staff.

The mashgiach, as he is called, also cracks open eggs to make sure there is no blood inside and checks that the correct utensils are being used.

Red and blue markers divide the kitchen into “meat” and “milk” areas. Plates, spoons and pans are also colour coded.

“At first it was a bit of a hassle. You’d suddenly realise you were using the wrong bowl,” said one apprentice, preparing matzos with a headscarf-wearing confectionist from Israel. Matzo is the substitute for bread during Pessach – Passover – when eating chametz – bread and leavened products – is forbidden.

In order that bread, chocolate and coconut macaroons don’t come into contact with acidic foods, the work surfaces are covered in plastic and aluminium foil.
Tensions

Fifteen minutes away in the village, in addition to positive comments about the Jewish guests one can also hear “I’m not racist but…” generalisations.

“I have nothing against these people, but they should conform a bit more,” said one bus driver, adding that the men don’t greet you, often go around in groups, occupy the nicest spots and leave rubbish behind.

“You can’t really say that these guests bring anything to the region financially,” said the owner of a souvenir shop, adding that the orthodox Jews seal themselves off in the Scuol Palace.

But for Abraham Friedman, a former Israeli officer, “it’s not a question of anti-semitism”.

Having organised an open day at the hotel so the residents of Scuol could learn about Jewish culture, Friedman now wants to compile some guidelines for his guests.

“The tensions in the village have eased,” admitted Jon Domenic Parolini, president of Scuol’s 2,300-inhabitant community. “People have got used to the fact that the Jewish guests are not big on communicating with the region.”

He welcomed Friedman’s intention to remind the guests that they are not on the moon and that other people live in the area.
Plans

“This is just the beginning,” said Shoshana Friedman. “We’re also breaking into the Jewish markets in Germany, France, Britain, the United States and Canada.”

The plastering on the façade might be peeling and there are spots of mould on a few ceilings, but the Friedmans have plans to expand.

After the renowned Engadine thermal baths at Scuol refused to allocate swimming times exclusively for Jews, the hotel now wants to open its own thermal baths.


More of today's headlines

Washington - Among Barack Obama's many firsts, we can now add this: He has made Hillary Clinton nearly invisible. Even Bubba never managed that. The secretary of... New York City - Researchers for the first time have linked air pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, bolstering evidence that smog may harm...

 

Total11

Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 20, 2009 at 08:00 AM e.g. Says:

I was there. It is really gorgeous.

2

 Jul 20, 2009 at 08:38 AM Avraham Says:

Damn Swiss. They're open Jew-haters.

3

 Jul 20, 2009 at 08:41 AM swiss lover Says:

Was there and was really happy B''h. The Friedman family are really nice and easy going people very friendly and accomodating. I am planning my next vacation their shortly. Wishing them lots of Hatzlocho in the future.

4

 Jul 20, 2009 at 08:30 AM Anonymous Says:

"Jewish tourists also come to the Scuol Palace because it has the infrastructure that lets them enjoy their holiday without having to neglect their religious duties...
The plastering on the façade might be peeling and there are spots of mould on a few ceilings......"


Why is it that even an "upscale" and expensive yiddeshe hotel has peeling paint and mold growing on the ceiling. This is not a Skevre summer camp in the Catskills. This is supposedly a 5 star hotel in the Alps charging hundreds of dollars a night and they still can't seem to provide a well maintained property. Stop worrying about the mixed bathing at the hot springs and clean up the lobby and hallways.

5

 Jul 20, 2009 at 09:55 AM power up Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

"Jewish tourists also come to the Scuol Palace because it has the infrastructure that lets them enjoy their holiday without having to neglect their religious duties...
The plastering on the façade might be peeling and there are spots of mould on a few ceilings......"


Why is it that even an "upscale" and expensive yiddeshe hotel has peeling paint and mold growing on the ceiling. This is not a Skevre summer camp in the Catskills. This is supposedly a 5 star hotel in the Alps charging hundreds of dollars a night and they still can't seem to provide a well maintained property. Stop worrying about the mixed bathing at the hot springs and clean up the lobby and hallways.

In switzerland its all to common, even very upscale hotels don't look like american five stars, they might be more grandiose and have more charm, but the floors might be squeeking and the carpet smelly

6

 Jul 20, 2009 at 10:01 AM Loshon Hora Says:

How much is it for aweek, just one guest?
How do you reserve?

7

 Jul 20, 2009 at 10:09 AM Anonymous Says:

Was there the first summer it opened. Went many times to the city and purchased various items. Everyone from the city was very nice and cordial. Went touring on the local chair lift, usef the local buses etc. and everyone was very nice.

if there has been a change it is because of the attitude of the newcomers.

I do remember taking a "Brisker" on a tour to a castle and he definitely did not make a kiddush Hashem.

8

 Jul 20, 2009 at 09:22 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Avraham Says:

Damn Swiss. They're open Jew-haters.

Why would you make such a blanket condemnation. The local residents are for the most part friendly they are merely reacting to the behaviour & lack of social graces on the part of the visitors. What does it take to say hello, please, thank you and excuse me! And to simply leave their rubbish, how big an effort is it to place it in the proper recepticle. We must remember, that we should attempt to make a Kiddish HaShem in everything we do, only then will we be on the correct path.

9

 Jul 20, 2009 at 09:21 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

"Jewish tourists also come to the Scuol Palace because it has the infrastructure that lets them enjoy their holiday without having to neglect their religious duties...
The plastering on the façade might be peeling and there are spots of mould on a few ceilings......"


Why is it that even an "upscale" and expensive yiddeshe hotel has peeling paint and mold growing on the ceiling. This is not a Skevre summer camp in the Catskills. This is supposedly a 5 star hotel in the Alps charging hundreds of dollars a night and they still can't seem to provide a well maintained property. Stop worrying about the mixed bathing at the hot springs and clean up the lobby and hallways.

Its a difficult problem and the logic is circular. If the don't get the right hashgacha and don't address all the items like mixed bathing etc. (however trivial) on the "Frummer Check List" (as distinct from Frommer Check list, the will not get the bookings from the ultra orthodox market segement. They need that revenue over a reasonable time to get the financing to upgrade the hotel's paint and decor. The frumme don't seem to mind schmutzy halls and smelly lobbys with mold on the cielings. They wouldn't ever show up unless the place had glatt meat, cholov yisroel and no mixed bathing.

10

 Jul 20, 2009 at 11:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Its a difficult problem and the logic is circular. If the don't get the right hashgacha and don't address all the items like mixed bathing etc. (however trivial) on the "Frummer Check List" (as distinct from Frommer Check list, the will not get the bookings from the ultra orthodox market segement. They need that revenue over a reasonable time to get the financing to upgrade the hotel's paint and decor. The frumme don't seem to mind schmutzy halls and smelly lobbys with mold on the cielings. They wouldn't ever show up unless the place had glatt meat, cholov yisroel and no mixed bathing.

As a member in a voluntary organization I get to be in houses in boro park and flatbush I am not chasidish but the chasidisha house are much cleaner and put together verses the modern and litvisha

11

 Jul 20, 2009 at 01:47 PM Anonymous Says:

I was there with my wife early this year and we had a fantastic time. The Friedman family are very warm and welcoming and most helpful. We were very pleased.

Our son in law took our three older boys there just before Pesach and they also had a wonderful time.

To be quite honest, none of us noticed peeling paint and mould, but we did find the hotel very comfortable and would definitely go again.

12

Sign-in to post a comment

Scroll Up
Advertisements:

Sell your scrap gold and broken jewelry and earn hard cash sell gold today!