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[KE CyberTorah] A Guide for the Passover Perplexed


A Guide for the Passover Perplexed

As Passover draws near, it is time to get our homes and kitchens ready for this special Holiday.  This guide offers an overview of home preparation. For more details, go to

Spiritual Meaning

Passover is the origin story of the Jewish people and our commitment to freedom and meaning.  Removing leavened products places us in that drama, reminding us that we continue to hope for redemption and freedom in every corner of ourselves and of the Earth.  Further, the rituals of cleaning remind us of our own need to explore how we contribute to the suffering and hurt of others.  As each crumb is wiped, as each food item removed, we imagine a deep cleaning of the soul as well.


Chametz is the combination of wheat, oat, barley, spelt or rye with water.  This specifically makes bread, pasta, cereals, cakes, crackers, and liquids with grains in them like beer or scotch forbidden for eating or drinking.  Jews can neither eat nor own these items during Passover.  As a result, there is a custom of separating out left over chametz and placing it in a closed, clearly marked area and then sold.  If you would like, you may designate me as your agent to sell your chametz.  It is customary to make a donation that goes towards hunger relief but not required. Simply send me an email designating me as your agent to sell chametz.

What you can buy

Fresh fruits and vegetables can be purchased at any time without any Rabbinic supervision.  Such items are always considered Kosher.  Further, dishwashing soaps, toothpaste, and other non-food items are not considered food and therefore are not subject to needing kosher supervision.

Prior to Pesach, some items can be purchased with only a regular kosher label but no special kosher for Passover label.  Such items include fresh natural coffee, sugar, tea, salt, spices, frozen fruit juices, milk, butter, and frozen fruit. Processed foods like flavored yogurts, sour cream, pasta sauce, and ketchup (all of which sometimes contains gluten) with many complicated ingredients may include chametz and should be purchased only with a kosher for Passover label. Food processing includes flour and other chametz derivatives in a variety of ways that do not require labeling but do render a food unkosher of Passover.  (For example, glucose is sometimes a wheat derivative but does not contain gluten.)
In addition, following the ruling of Rabbi David Golinkin and the CJLS, I permit the eating of legumes and corn during Pesach.  They must also be purchased prior to the holiday and cannot be cooked or processed.  Please keep in mind that many continue to honor the traditional Ashkenazi practice of refraining from legumes.  Cooking legumes in one’s kitchen does not make the kitchen Chametz.  If a person who eats legumes is hosting someone who does not, simply serve only items without legumes.  I have researched Bobs Red Mill gluten free flour and certify it as ok for those who eat kitniyot.

All other packaged or processed items must have a kosher for Passover label because they may use chametz in their production. Ingredient lists on packaged items are unreliable because chametz items occur in a variety of additives and are sometimes used for processing or as preservatives. If you have questions, please contact me.  

Preparing the Kitchen

Ovens are thoroughly cleaned and then run on their highest setting for one half hour to make them Kosher for Pesach.  Self cleaning ovens can be run through one cycle, washed down, and then run through a second cycle to kasher.  Microwave ovens are thoroughly cleaned and then a cup of water is boiled in them for two minutes.

Glassware is thoroughly cleaned in hot soapy water and is then considered kosher for Passover.  Metal utensils, provided they are solid metal pieces, can be koshered by cleaning them and then being fully immersed in boiling water.  Earthenware and plastics cannot be koshered for use on Passover.  Only when such items have never been in contact with Chametz can they be used.

Finally, the Rabbinical Assembly permits the use of dishwashers during Passover.  They are koshered by refraining from using them for 24 hours and then running them through a cycle with detergent.  The Rabbinical Assembly has a more detailed description of Pesach  rules here.  

I hope this helps as you begin your Passover preparations.  I wish everyone a wonderful and kosher Passover.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi David Booth

Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784