Passover 101 – A Guide


Shalom and welcome to the Passover issue of the Kosher Nexus. In this special edition, you will find a wealth of information for Passover. We all hope that this issue will help you with everything from preparing your home to purchasing Kosher L’Pesah products. From all of us, and the Union for Traditional Judaism, we wish you a festive and meaningful Pesah.

Preparing Your Home for Pesah

Pesah begins on Monday night (April 10) this year. The Search for Leaven will take place on the night before Yom Tov—Sunday, April 9, after dark. At that time, all of the usual blessings and formulas would be recited. The bitul (nullification) that is recited is generally only for the hametz that we don’t know about. It is very important that we understand the words of the nullification formula. Therefore, for those who don’t understand the Aramaic or Hebrew, it is fitting to repeat the words in English.
The final bitul is done the next morning (Monday, April 10) early in the day. At that time, all hametz must be gone from the home. We recite the bitul, and we burn the hametz that we bagged the night before.
The Fast of the Firstborn takes place on Monday, as well. In addition to each b’chor, fathers of a minor b’chor must also fast on behalf of that minor child.
Most synagogues will offer a siyum (conclusion to a tractate of Talmud) at the end of the morning minyan. Attendance at a siyum obviates the need to fast.
All preparations of the house and foods must be done well before Yom Tov. In order to prepare for Pesah, each room of the house must be carefully cleaned. The Kosher Nexus offers the following tips and suggestions:
• Check all sofa and chair cushions and vacuum carefully.
• Use a vacuum cleaner with attachments to clean all baseboards and corners of rooms. This works great in the corners of your children’s closets and their drawers, too. (We all know how children love to hide things!)
• Clean out toy boxes, and wash all toys that a baby may have spilled formula or juice on, or even played with at mealtime.
• Check between mattresses; one never knows what could be lurking there!
• Pocketbooks, pant cuffs, coat pockets, and jeans pockets (especially those of little boys) should be carefully searched.
• Be especially careful during the cleaning of your den/TV room; you will be amazed at the places that hametz can be hiding.
• A word to the wise (and stressed)—concentrate on rooms where you know people have brought hametz during the year. If no one eats in the laundry room, for instance, save that room for last.

The Kosher Kitchen Korps

Naturally, the kitchen will require your most serious attention. Here are some tips to help make the process easier. (It won’t make you happier, but it will make the work easier!)
Refrigerators: Empty the refrigerator. Clean the interior thoroughly using a new (and, therefore, Pesahdik) sponge. Remove all the racks, bins, and shelves to facilitate cleaning. There are two halakhic stances concerning the interior of the refrigerator: Sefardim generally do not require lining/covering the shelves, etc. The Ashkenazic custom (but not law) today is to cover the plastic racks and bins. We do not believe that is necessary. Restock the refrigerator with only Kosher for Passover foods.
Blenders and Mixers: If you can afford it, it is best to buy separate units for Pesah. Any parts that are plastic or rubber cannot be made Kosher for Pesah, according to Ashkenazic minhag (custom). Therefore, after thoroughly cleaning the motor part, and kashering the metal blades, put away all the rest of the unit and get new parts for Pesah. (Stand-up mixers are much too difficult to kasher for Pesah, especially if used to make challah throughout the year. No matter how hard we tried, no matter how much we cleaned the mixer, there were still traces of hametz. We solved this problem by purchasing an inexpensive mixer to use just for Pesah.)
Dishwashers: Sefardim require that the unit be run through a full cycle. The Ashkenazic custom is to clean the interior with a brush and then run two full cycles. Many Ashkenazic authorities also require that new racks be purchased for Pesah. The Kosher Nexus recommends donning a pair of rubber gloves and washing those dishes by hand, or better yet, having those teenagers help out! (It will keep them busy for a few hours and, therefore, out of your hair!) Otherwise, one full cycle with soap will suffice.
Counters and Tabletops: Sefardim clean and purge with boiling water. They do not require the covering of tables or counters. Although the Mishneh Brurah is clear that we don’t have to cover countertops, common Ashkenazic practice is to clean and cover them all anyway. Most hardware and/or decorating stores sell clear plastic. This can be cut to size and makes a nice counter cover. For ease of use, though, nothing beats Rubbermaid Shelf Paper—its self-stick back is perfect, and it comes away easily at the end of Yom Tov. We follow the custom of the Mishneh Brurah.
Sinks: Sefardim require a complete cleaning followed by purging with boiling water. The Ashkenazic custom is to kasher only metal sinks. All other sinks must be cleaned, purged with boiling water, and lined or covered. A plastic dish tub with a few holes poked in the bottom, which sits on a sink rack, works great.
Microwave Ovens: (This does not include convection ovens, which must be made kosher for Pesah the same way as a conventional oven.) Clean the inside of the microwave thoroughly. Remove any trays. Put a bowl of water in the oven. Turn the power up to full and boil the water for a few minutes until the entire interior is wet with steam. Move the bowl and nuke it once again.
Drawers and Cabinets: These must be cleaned and lined. Those that will not be used during Pesah need not be lined. The Kosher Nexus recommends that any cabinets and drawers that will not be used be sealed with a bit of tape (or better still—put a “closed for Yom Tov” sign on it; another good way to keep the kids busy) to avoid any accidental use of items that remain inside.
Self-Cleaning Ovens: Run the self-clean cycle. Voilà! One Kosher-for-Pesah oven. (And if that isn’t the best reason to own one…!) You may also be able to put racks and stove-top trivets in the oven during the cleaning cycle, but please check your owner’s manual first, as temperatures reach approximately 700 degrees during the cleaning cycle.
Note: The above pertains to self-cleaning ovens only, NOT continuous-cleaning ovens.
Ovens: Remove any part that is removable, and scrub, scrub, and scrub some more. Basically, clean it until it won’t come any cleaner! Use a lot of oven cleaner, but if you have a “continuous-clean” oven, check your owner’s manual before applying an oven cleaner. Some oven cleaners will destroy the finish on continuous-clean ovens. After a complete cleaning, put it all back together and turn on the oven full blast for one full hour. When cool, cover your racks with aluminum rack covers, found inexpensively at the supermarket, or use new racks for Pesah. Your broiler pan cannot be kashered for Pesah unless you use a blowtorch! It must be brought to a higher temperature than it is normally used for, hence the blowtorch.
Gas and Electric Ranges: These cooktops must be cleaned as thoroughly as possible. Remove all parts that you can and scrub. Remove the trivets from the range top, and give them a good cleaning. Lift up the range top—it is amazing how much hametz that you will find here. Clean it all out! For electric ranges, the coils are self-kashering. Just let them get red, and they are ready to go. For gas ranges, put your cooktop back together and turn on the burners for one full hour. When everything has cooled down, line the inside of your range with aluminum foil, and do the same for the range top. You have now completed kashering your stove for Pesah. Please keep in mind that the “blech” we use all year round cannot be made Kosher for Pesah. A new one will need to be purchased.
Bread Drawers: Ashkenazic custom is to clean the bread drawer and close it for Pesah.

Kashering Q&A

What are the kashering methods used for Pesah? There are four possible ways to kasher for Pesah: (A) Hagalah—immersion in boiling water; (B) Libun—purification by flame by turning the metal white-hot (such as with a blowtorch, used to clean items like broilers and barbecues); (C) Irui—pouring boiling water over the surface; and (D) Milui v’irui—soaking in cold water.
How do we kasher utensils for Pesah? In general, the rule we follow is simple: Each utensil is kashered according to its use. Halakhically, we say, “as the utensil has absorbed, so will it emit what it has absorbed.” Many items can be made kosher for Pesah by hagalah (the total immersion of an item into a larger pot of boiling water for a few seconds).
How do we do hagalah? First take a Pesah pot and fill it with water. Bring the pot to a boil.
You are now ready to kasher (by dunking into the boiling water) each item that requires hagalah. You may do only one item at a time. The Kosher Nexus recommends heavy-duty rubber gloves (the kind for handling chemicals), so that you do not get burned. Another great idea for dunking is to purchase a nylon net bag, and put your items into the bag, and then dunk the bag.
Each item to be boiled must be clean and must not have been used for the preceding 24 hours. If you do not have a Pesah pot big enough to use for hagalah, use a hametz pot. Bring the pot to a boil, spill it over as above, and you are ready to dunk.
What can be kashered this way? In general, items made of metal, glass, and stone may be kashered this way. However, the Kosher Nexus recommends that you be very careful with glassware, as the boiling water may cause breakage. There is an alternate way to kasher glassware for Pesah.
So how do you kasher glassware? Again, there are differing opinions on this. The Sefardim say that one only has to thoroughly wash the glass item. The Ashkenazic view is that glass needs to be kashered for Pesah use. To kasher glassware, you must first make sure that the items are glass. Only pure glass that has been washed and allowed to stand for 24 hours may be kashered.
Glassware requires a three-day dunk! Yep, count ’em, three days. The Kosher Nexus suggests using an “extra” bathtub or a very large wash basin. Put all glassware into the tub, and then fill with cold water. Completely empty the tub after 24 hours, and refill. Then empty it again, after another 24 hours have passed, and refill it. Finally, after the third 24-hour period has passed, you may remove your glassware. They are now Kosher for Pesah. (This method can also be used whenever you need to kasher your glassware that may have become trefe for some reason, or if you are just becoming kosher.) We have discovered that more and more Ashkenazim in Israel follow the Sefardic custom. We concur.
There are a number of items that cannot be made kosher for Pesah. They include the following:
Any plates or bowls made of stoneware, bone china, porcelain, or various clays are all porous and cannot be kashered. (Most china is a combination of various clays.)
Anything made out of plastic, as it absorbs food particles. (Ashkenazic custom only, and not all rabbis agree with this stance.)
Baking pans cannot be made Kosher for Pesah.

Kosher L’Pesah Foods

Purchasing Kosher for Pesah foods takes some thought and planning. Many products that you use every day cannot be used for Pesah. Most items require special certification for Pesah. The list below will help you in determining which products do and do not need special Pesah certification.

The following items do NOT require special certification for Pesah:

Bicarbonate of soda
Cocoa (Hershey’s Pure)—just open a new container
Isocal, Ensure, Sustecal, Ipecac
Frozen juices without added vitamin C
Unsweetened, natural frozen fruits—not in any syrup
Fresh fish
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Raw nuts
Domino Brownulated and Domino Brown Sugar
Salt without iodine
Extra-virgin olive oil
Plain, unflavored seltzer
Bottled water

The following products REQUIRE certification for Pesah use:

Baking powder
Butter (Only if bought during pesah).
Canned fruits and vegetables
Frozen vegetables
Chewing gum
Honey (due to the possible undocumented presence of corn syrup)
Frozen vegetables
Frozen fruit with any additives
Cider vinegar
Cooking oil
Herbal teas are available for Pesah, but only in specially marked packages. Herbal tea must be certified for Passover (as well as all year long).
Liquid Sweet ‘n’ Low is OK to use for Pesah. There is powdered Sweet ‘n’ Low (in packets) that is kosher for Pesah, but only in specially marked packages.
Cottonseed oil needs only to be marked kosher for it to be used for Pesah.
Many caffeine-free teas are actually chametz—beware!

Posted on March 27, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink
In: General Topics, Holidays, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher News, Passover, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply