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Pesach was great! Continued Chag Sameach!
Preparing our homes and minds for Pesach can be overwhelming because usually there is so much to be done and in such a busy society with work, family and other obligations, it leaves little time to complete these much needed tasks. Once again I find myself in a situation in which there is less than a week to go and I feel that I’m not close enough to my goal of finishing as I’d wished. Well don’t panic, hopefully this will help you as it helped me as I recently reprioritized my work:
Removal of Chametz & Cleaning
Prioritize your cleaning. Take heed to what we are commanded to do: Exodus 12:14-17
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the The Most High—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do. 17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.
We usually take this time to do what we call ”Spring Cleaning” but what’s of the utmost importance is getting the chametz out of our dwellings. All items that are not marked ”kosher for passover” or that consist of chametz/leaven/yeast should be disposed of and removed out of our dwellings. If we keep the plan simple, it’s not as overwhelming.
My simplified checklist for cleaning beginning 2-3 weeks prior to Passover:
- All bedrooms weeks before: move furniture from walls, take down and wash any window treatments/decor, clean all hanging art/items and free-standing items (example: lamps), clean light fixtures or ceiling fans, clean air conditioner units and if need change out the air conditioning unit filters. Clean all mirrors. It’s also a good time to clear out your closet, dressers and end tables of unused or unneeded items. At least the week before be careful to isolate all eating to your kitchen to ensure you are not carrying chametz all throughout the home.
- Shared spaces: Living room, laundry room, other shared rooms- same routine as bedrooms except when there is furniture like sofas or a cushioned chair, remove the cushions or pillows and use a brush to get all chametz, even turning over the furniture to thoroughly check. Bookshelves, cabinets and all items should be cleaned, dusted off. In the laundry room it’s good to get inside of your washing machine and give it a good wipe down to make sure no hidden mold/mildew is missed. Again, at least the week before begin to isolate all eating to your kitchen.
- It’s worth buying a new welcome mat, especially at this time of year.
- Windows, shutters, blinds….etc.- I always save until the week before due to a dust storm that usually hits Israel right before Passover.
- Painting: It’s great to refresh your house inside with a new coat of paint if time permits. Nothing to go crazy about. Minimum clean white walls with a mild diluted bleach cleaner or colored walls with a mild detergent safe for walls for a nice fresh look.
- Cleaning & Kashering the KITCHEN & DINING ROOM: most likely this is going to take the bulk of the work because of the food items that are forbidden to be in our homes during the 7 days. General cleaning out of non-food cabinets/storage can be done weeks before. The week of I begin bringing out the food items that are chametz and isolating them to a box in the kitchen. I use whatever can be used from the box or the fridge days leading up to Passover. In all homes observing Passover a Bedikat Chametz or Check for Chametz the night of the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan should be done. Being careful not to buy any new food items that have chametz/not kosher for Passover is imperative the last days leading up to Passover.
- Imperative to wash down and clean out all items from your food-containing cabinets, refrigerator or freezer, pantry, or other food-containing storage spots. Of course remove the food items before cleaning. Disassembling the shelves and drawers of fridge is a must.
- Stove-top & oven- use an oven cleaner and make sure to read the directions. Gloves are usually required in order to protect your hands. If you have a self-cleaning oven this helps but I would still clean it. Disassemble the stove top and use a degreaser and oven cleaner to get it thoroughly clean.
- Backsplash, tables, chairs, cabinet surfaces, counter-tops, walls- give all a good cleaning
- Dishwasher- don’t forget to do a wash cycle on this and make sure to let it dry inside
- Pots, pans, cooking utensils, blenders, crock pots, etc.- It’s great to have a set-apart set of all of these just for Passover. Some people buy a new set every year and throw the old one out or give it away. Some use one time use/disposable items. At some point you should thoroughly clean the ones that you know have been used for chametz. Boiling all items that can be boiled is also a great way to remove chametz.
- Buy new cleaning sponges, mops, broom heads for use before and after kashering the home.
- Clean your trash cans or buy new.
- Mop your floors thoroughly. Vacuum carpeting thoroughly. If you own expensive rugs it’s worth sending them to the dry cleaner.
Again, keeping in mind where we started above with Exodus 12:14-17, so as not to drive ourselves crazy. We are commanded to not have chametz in our dwellings and not eat it at this time.
This is also a time to reflect spiritually
This time of year is not just about what we are forbidden to eat and to have in our homes. We should do some inner reflection about how we are not to be puffed up and how we should consistently seek humility, meekness and gratitude, therefore removing the leaven from our spiritual homes.
My fave food items and dishes that are Kosher for Passover (Pesach) & helpful link:
https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/3971428/jewish/What-Is-Kosher-for-Passover.htm ⬅️ In this link you’ll see all that you need to have for a great Passover Seder.
Chabad’s short answer on ”What is chametz”?
Chametz (also spelled “hametz” or “chometz”) is any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that has come into contact with water and been allowed to ferment and “rise.”
In practice, just about anything made from these grains—other than Passover matzah, which is carefully controlled to avoid leavening—is to be considered chametz. This includes flour (even before it is mixed with water), cake, cookies, pasta, breads, and items that have chametz as an ingredient, like malt.
Since we eat unleavened bread, make use of your matzot by making home-made pizzas, lasagna and quiche. Also the matzot make great snacks when you spread chocolate on them (just don’t over do it). This is my main food shopping list for Passover, although not every item that I buy:
- Plenty of Eggs- boiled eggs, omelets and quiche (with crust made from matzot) are great meal options.
- Matzot- yes you can make your own but why risk it….best to buy it with the Kosher for Passover symbol
- Coconut (make sure marked Kosher for Passover)- makes a great sub for flour in dessert recipes like cakes and cookies, a good item to include in a breakfast dish.
- Nuts- a variety of nuts are a great source of protein. They can be used in a variety of dishes or just eaten as is.
- Potato flour if you just can’t stand not to have any flour in your diet is a great sub for regular flour.
- Olives and pickles with the Kosher for Passover symbol (usually in olive oil)
- Frozen veggies such as green beans, cauliflower, broccoli
- Cabbage, Lettuce, a small piece of horse radish
- Chicken, fish, turkey from a source you know holding a kosher certification
- Any oils and seasonings (of course ensuring Kosher for Passover).
- Parveh Ice Cream kosher for passover
- Kosher for Passover Wine and Juice