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A Guide for the Passover Perplexed

The State of Israel is the Mishkan, and we dare not lose it. Click here for Rabbi Booth’s talk about the political moment in Israel.


Passover is less than two weeks away. Now is the time to begin preparing our kitchens and our souls for the celebration of the holiday. I will focus this week on the physical preparations for the holiday, and next week on the spiritual. 

At Passover, we are commanded to neither eat, own, nor see in our homes Hametz. Hametz is the combination of wheat, oat, barley, spelt or rye with water.  This makes bread, pasta, cereals, cakes, crackers, and liquids with grains in them like beer or scotch forbidden for eating or drinking. Many separate leftover chametz and place it in a closed marked area.  If you would like, you may do so and then designate me as your agent to sell your chametz.  It is customary to make a donation but not required. Simply send me an email designating me as your agent to sell chametz.

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 hametz derivatives in a variety of ways that do not require labeling but do render a food unkosher for Passover.  

In addition, following the ruling of Rabbi David Golinkin and the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, 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 Hametz.  If a person who eats legumes is hosting someone who does not, simply serve only items without legumes.  

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 Hametz 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

Wed, June 19 2024 13 Sivan 5784