Sholli Kestecher has long dreamed of providing Torah-observant travelers with a seamless experience. Blessed with keen business acumen, the personable London-born entrepreneur drew upon his own experience in the property management industry to create a platform with the capability to enhance and customize every aspect of Jewish travel. “I have always been a people-oriented person,” Sholli told the 5TJT. “I love hosting weekly Shabbos meals in my home with dozens of guests. This is one of the reasons I fi nd the short-termrentals industry appealing. I enjoy interacting with all kinds of people and helping them have memorable and enjoyable experiences.” After making aliyah, Sholli moved to the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot, one of the oldest parts of the Old City. Over the years, it has evolved from a decaying slum to a gentrifi ed extension of the Jerusalem downtown area. Boasting a plethora of new and refurbished buildings with elegantly appointed apartments, Nachlaot is a holiday destination of choice for short-term renters. Additionally, its close proximity to Jerusalem’s shuk makes the neighborhood a prime tourist location. This is precisely why an increasing number of apartments are bought each year by people seeking to earn money from short-term rentals.
“I had the idea to create JStay back in 2018, after going back and forth with potential guests and trying to book shortterm rentals,” Sholli explains. At the time, however, he was still running his shortterm-rentals business, so he put JStay “on the back burner.” He launched JStay in October 2019, and when COVID hit, he took advantage of the extra time he had during the lockdown to develop his idea and hone his entrepreneurial skills. Using a model that is similar to Airbnb, JStay is a Jewish travel app that allows its users to find suitable vacation rentals and hotels, with kashrus filters and ratings, Shabbos and yom tov options, and much more. Never before has it been this easy to book or host within the global Jewish community. Generating buzz throughout the world, the JStay travel app is designed to facilitate vacation rental bookings for Orthodox Jews by incorporating halachic essentials into the platform. JStay declares that its mission is to be an all-in-one Jewish travel app. “We want to provide a platform for anyone looking to host, or anyone looking to find Jewish life around the world, making it easy for users to search and upload properties, shuls, mikvehs, and anything else related to the Jewish experience,” Sholli told the 5TJT. “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to plan their vacations, and to give them as many resources as possible to make their time away relaxing and meaningful.”
JStay affords hosts the ability to categorize their listings as strictly kosher, standard kosher, and non-kosher. Guests can filter their results based on their search preferences. While standard kosher and non-kosher listings can be booked instantly, guests requiring a strictly kosher rental can request the apartment, and the host will be notified of a request to book the property. Further, guests can refine their search results based on the listing’s proximity to shuls, mikva’os, stores, and restaurants. JStay enables hosts to include a plethora of additional options as well, such as the availability of a menorah, candlesticks, or a Pesach kitchen, and the ability to provide Siddurim, sefarim, or Jewish reading material. More than just a platform, JStay is designed to be sensitive to the religious needs of its clients. Accordingly, if a rental is situated in an area within an eruv, the host is encouraged to include the information in the listing. In order to enable several families to share a large home for an extended Shabbos or yom tov or a vacation getaway, listings also include the number of beds per room. Generally, Friday check-in is two hours before Shabbos begins, and checkout is at least one hour after Shabbos concludes. The platform also has a feature allowing hosts to automatically raise the price for Shabbos and yom tov for extended checkins. As a frum businessman who runs his company according to halachah, Sholli has earned a sterling reputation as well as the implicit trust of his clients for his sense of integrity.
“I’m so excited to have launched such a groundbreaking app,” says Sholli. “I have spent the last ten years working in the property and short-term-rental business, and decided it was time to make the Jewish travel world an easier place to navigate. My app, JStay, is here to make your vacation-planning smooth and painless.” He adds, “Our app is free to download and set-up. You only pay when you book a place. We are working around the clock to bring new features to the app, including supplying information to help make your vacation relaxing.” Peruse the following unsolicited testimonials that are representative of the enthusiastic response to this groundbreaking app. “JStay is a great app; it’s so easy to use. It’s really awesome to browse properties for rent and I really like that you can see kashrus standards, kitchen situation, etc. My children told me about it—so happy they did!” –F.M. “Excellent service!” Much better than any other short-term-rental app (including Airbnb!). Really caters to every need. –B.G. “Super-cool app! And very friendly company. Looking forward to lots of vacations with them.” –D.K. “Superb app! It was so easy to upload all information, and seems like everything was thought through. The company is very professional—all my e-mails and correspondence were quickly answered and dealt with.” –Y.K. “Finally, an easy way to find a kosher apartment/house rental. Why did it take so long for us to realize we needed this?! They’ve added amazing features—nearby shuls, restaurants, supermarkets, mikvehs, and more. Great work and yasher koach to the people who figured this out!” –R.G. With his finger on the pulse of the hospitality industry, Sholli is “always looking to develop strategic partnerships with leading global travel partners in flight, vehicle rentals, and trip planning, to help expand the JStay brand and better the platform for all our users.” For further information about JStay, please visit JStay.com.