Orthodox Jews banned from renting holiday homes by German travel firm

Cologne-based company that operates ski holidays across Europe told Jewish family they would not be allowed to stay in their properties


A German company has been accused of adopting a “systematic policy” to block strictly Orthodox Jews from renting holiday homes that it manages.

E&P Reisen, a Cologne-based firm that operates ski holidays across Europe, allegedly told two Jewish families they would not be allowed to stay in their properties due to their faith.

Earlier this year, Channah Feldinger, 32, tried to book a large house in eastern Switzerland that was advertised on the company’s website.

E&P Reisen declined her request, explaining it would not rent the property to Charedim, because previous guests had damaged its houses.

“Unfortunately, our houses do not meet the requirements of strictly Jewish-Orthodox groups and ‘Abitur groups’ [of school graduates],” it said in an email seen by the JC.

“Since we do not want to prevent anyone from practising his/her faith and because of our experience in dealing with our houses (damage and complaints), we unfortunately cannot make you a rental offer.”

Her uncle, Manny Feldinger, 42, said he was shocked as he had rented the same property previously.

The London estate agent, who moved to the UK from Switzerland 12 years ago, said E&P Reisen had no right to tar all Jews with the same brush.

When Feldinger’s brother called E&P Reisen to confirm that the party would not be allowed to book the house, a company representative allegedly said that, under a new policy, the company would not rent to Orthodox Jews.

The employee claimed Charedim made more mess than other customers, Feldinger said.

“I have a very good relationship with everyone who rents to me,” Feldinger added.

“I left the house clean, we have even taken cleaning ladies with us. We have very good relations. We never, ever had a problem in Switzerland.”

Jörg Rensmann, head of the Research and Information Centre for Antisemitism North Rhine-Westphalia, a body that monitors Jew-hate in Cologne and the surrounding area, described the situation as “incomprehensible”, adding that it was “the responsibility of the company to find a nondiscriminatory solution as soon as possible”.

Jonathan Kretner, general secretary of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, said that separately, a strictly Orthodox family from Switzerland were told by E&P Reisen in March that they could not rent the house because they were Charedi.

“When it happened to the British family we saw it was a systematic policy to block Jews,” he said.

“From our point of view, I understand you have a misunderstanding. That’s one thing. But when people are so frank, so openly saying this and making this the official company strategy, this is a new thing for us in Switzerland.”

The rejection email that the Swiss family received contained exactly the same wording as the one received by the Feldingers, he said.

Kretner added: “Officially this German company said we are not taking Jews — this is completely new.”

When Swiss newspaper Blick contacted E&P Reisen, a managing director reportedly confirmed that the company would not rent to Charedim.

“The damage is often so great that we cannot repair it for the following group and therefore cannot guarantee [those guests] the quality which they have booked,” he wrote.

“We are only leaseholders of the houses and our landlords contractually oblige us to treat the furniture with care.”

The Feldingers’ experience is the latest in a series of clashes between Swiss nationals and strictly Orthodox holidaymakers in a region popular with frum tourists during the cheaper off-season.

In 2017, a sign written in English at a hotel in the mountain resort of Arosa specifically instructed Jewish guests had to shower before using the swimming pool, while another said they could only use a fridge at certain times.

Israel’s then deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, called the notices “an antisemitic act of the worst and ugliest kind”.

Rolf Peterson, a managing director at E&P Reisen, said the JC’s “information is not correct” but declined to comment further.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive