New Brunswick NJ… The arrival of some 750 guests for an annual convention this past Thanksgiving Day weekend meant a great deal of preparation for one hotel here. The Hilton of East New Brunswick had installed conventional locks in all of its 400 rooms so that guests at the convention of Agudath Israel of America could bypass the electronic locks on the Shabbat. In addition they also made changes to their automatic electric system in rooms so that lights would not go off when guests left their rooms. The hotel staff was busy putting masking tape on the electronic locks so that the door lock was operational only with a key. The hotel hopes to recoup its investment with repeat business from the group next year and perhaps from many other Orthodox weekend parties and meetings. The Hilton is not alone in investing money into attracting the kosher groups. One Passover program organizer said that many hotels had offered to do the same with a multi-year commitment for Passover. He said that he had encountered similar “goodwill” from hotels in designating specific sections of the kitchen as their “kosher kitchen.” Several hotels in New Jersey, said the organizer, even offered to convert one of their elevators into a Shabbos elevator, an elevator that would make all stops and be in conformity with Jewish laws prohibiting operating elevators on Shabbos.
November 30, 2009