With Purim just a few days behind us, it is already time for beginning Pesah (Passover) preparations. One of the most observed Jewish holidays in the U.S. 21st century, Pesah resonates with us on both individual and communal levels. Our tradition gives us space to identify with the feeling of being personally enslaved and it goads us re-commit to communal freedom for all. A great homecoming, with all of the accompanying joys and challenges, Pesah embraces us with millennia-old themes and customs. It reminds us that all people are created equal; no group has the moral right to subjugate another.
Our festive Passover tables reflect preparation that happens in “spiritually-cleansed kitchens,” a symbol for our spiritually cleansed hearts. This preparation takes time and planning in advance to help us reach the spiritual heights that are within our reach at Passover.
And, we encourage those who would like to open their homes to others in need of a place for seder, to contact Alona Shahbaz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Likewise, if you would like to be included as a guest at a home-hosted seder, please contact Alona.
5778/2018 Passover Guide
Kosher l’Pesah food, removal of hametz from your home, preparing your home for Passover, selling hametz
What is Hametz?
Hametz is a mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to rise and that comes from wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt. For the eight days of Passover, a Jew may not eat or own hametz. Matzah is made of flour and water that are mixed and baked so quickly that it is not allowed to rise. Only products that are kosher l’Pesah (kosher for Passover) may be eaten on Passover. Many stores put “Jewish products” that are not kosher for Passover on display at Passover time, so please check for a kosher l’Pesah label (hekhsher).
Kosher for Passover Food
Foods that must be purchased before andor during Passover without a special hekhsher: fresh kosher meat and fish, eggs, fresh fruit, and vegetables, baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, Nestea (regular and decaffeinated), pure black, green, or white tea leaves, unflavored tea bags, unflavored regular coffee, olive oil (extra-virgin only), whole or half pecans (not pieces), whole (unground) spices and nuts.
Foods that may be purchased before 11:00 a.m. on the 14th of Nissan without a Passover hekhsher, but require one if purchased later include: milk, butter, cottage cheese, non-processed cheeses, pure fruit juices, pure coffee, salt and pure natural spices without additives, sugar, 100% tuna in water and salt with no additives, and frozen vegetables or fruit containing no additives.
All other foods require a hekhsher whether bought before or during Passover. These include processed foods such as baked products, matzah, vinegar, wine, liquor, and candy.
Ashkenazic (of European descent) Jews have a thousand year-old tradition of not eating kitniyot on Pesah. This category includes: beans, peas, lentils, rice, millet, sesame seeds, and corn. The reason is that flour that was made out of kitniyot could be confused with hametz. Even though the original reason no longer applies, some argue that not eating kitniyot is a strong custom that should be maintained. Others argue that eating kitniyot should be permitted, especially for vegetarians who deem them vital for health. Some who do not eat kitniyot do eat derivatives of kitniyot, such as soybean oil.
Removal of Hametz
Change Dishes: Dishes, cookware, and utensils used during the rest of the year are put away in a cabinet that will not be opened during Pesah.
We are not allowed to own hametz during Pesah. Therefore, all leavened grains such as breads, pastas, and any foods that are mixtures of hametz and other food should be given away or sold. Foods that don’t contain hametz but contain traces of it (canned or processed foods) should be places in a cabinet and sold. Legumes, rice, and other types of kitniyot are not hametz and need only be placed in a cabinet that will not be opened during Pesah.
Ovens: Self-cleaning ovens can be koshered by running the cleaning cycle. Other ovens, and their sides, racks, and broiling pans should be cleaned with an oven cleaner. Then the oven, with the racks and pans, can be koshered by turning the oven to the highest temperature for half an hour. Microwave pans should be thoroughly cleaned and a glass of water should be heated in it until it boils and a mist fills the inside of the microwave.
Stoves: The grates of the stove should be cleaned thoroughly and then replaced on the burner, which should then be turned on to full heat for an hour. Never leave your home while koshering a stove! The stove top should be opened and cleaned underneath, and the top of the stove should be thoroughly cleaned underneath.
Refrigerator and Freezer: Clean refrigerator with warm water and detergent, scrubbing bins and any stuck-on food. Defrost and clean the freezer. Some choose to line the racks of the refrigerator with foil or plastic.
Sinks and counters: Metal sinks should be cleaned and then koshered by pouring boiling water down the sides and into the sink. The water for this and for all other koshering should be boiled in a pot that has not been used in the last 24 hours. Clean the drain carefully. For a non-metal sink, clean it and put in a liner or basin. Counters should be cleaned and covered with foil or contact paper.
Cabinets: Seal up your non-Pesah cabinets with tape; they may not be opened during Pesah. Cabinets that will be used for Pesah should be cleaned thoroughly.
Bedikat hametz, the search for leaven: Conducted on the 14th of Nissan, the evening before the day before Pesah, this symbolic search is the final cleaning of hametz from the household. It is customary, but not necessary, to place 10 pieces of hametz around the house and to search for them with a candle (a flashlight may also be used) with a feather and a wooden spoon with which to collect the found hametz. A blessing is recited that may be found at the beginning of most haggadot. The search is conducted in silence after the blessing is said. The hametz is collected in a bag and burned the next morning. After the search, a declaration is made that any remaining hametz is null and void. This declaration, often found in the haggadah, is also made the next morning at the burning of the hametz.
Selling hametz: Reasoning that it would be a financial hardship to dispose of all hametz, the sages created a legal process of selling hametz so that Jews would not own hametz during Pesah. Each household authorizes a rabbi to sell their hametz to someone who is not Jewish for the duration of Pesah by way of a written contract.
Kashering Dishes and Utensils: Many people have dishes and utensils specifically reserved for Passover use. However, some dishes and utensils may be kashered before the 14th of Nissan after being scoured and set aside for 24 hours. Metal can be koshered by immersion in boiling water. Silverware or small pots may be koshered by placing them in a pot of boiling water. Frying pans cannot be easily kashered; invest in separate ones for Passover. Plastic handles must be removed where food might accumulate. If the handle is welded to the post so that the food cannot accumulate, the post can be koshered together with the handle. Knives with wooden handles cannot be kashered. Porcelain dishes cannot be kashered not can stoneware or ceramic mugs. Utensils with a nonstick surface such as Teflon can be kashered.
Kashering Glass and Pyrex: Glass may be kashered by simple washing, according to the Sephardic custom. Ashkenazim kasher glass by soaking it in water for 72 hours, changing the water every 24 hours. Pyrex, Corningware, Corelle, and other modern ovenproof ceramics are considered the same as glass.
Passover Timeline for 2018
For all candle lighting times, please consult Hebcal.
Now through March 28
Begin the process of removing hametz and utensils related to its preparation and serving. Kasher kitchen as outlined above.
Thursday, March 29
By evening, complete removal of hametz and utensils related to its preparation and serving.
Friday, March 30
Finish eating and dispose of all hametz.
“Sell” your hametz by 11:00 a.m.- download the form here.
First Seder in the evening
Saturday, March 31
First Day of Passover
9:30 a.m. Passover services; we refrain from working
Second Seder in the evening
Sunday, April 1
Second Day of Passover
9:45 a.m. Passover services; we refrain from working until night
Tuesday, April 3
Fourth Day of Passover
7:00 a.m. Daily Minyan services
Thursday, April 5
Sixth Day of Passover
6:50 a.m. Daily Minyan services
Evening: light Holiday candles; refrain from working until Saturday night
Friday, April 6
Seventh Day of Passover
9:45 a.m. Passover services; we refrain from working until Saturday night
Saturday, April 7
Shabbat and Eighth Day of Passover
9:30 a.m. Shabbat and Passover services and Yizkor
8:00 p.m. we are permitted to eat hametz and work
8:15 p.m. we are permitted to “reclaim” our hametz and hametz-related items
As you bring the wisdom of Jewish tradition to life in your homes though the Festival of Passover, may you bring freedom to a world so sorely in need. Let our Passover tables be a beacon for freedom for all.
חג כשר ושמח – May you be blessed
with a kosher and joyous Passover!
Rabbis Leider and Levy