Sign In Forgot Password

the meaning of food on passover

Passover is a season of hope, renewal, and life. Nature’s spring is the backdrop for our People’s story of beginnings and freedom. Passover’s message and mood lift us up and encourage us to look ahead to better days and brighter times.
 
As we get ready for our holiday, we pause to consider the meanings of freedom and human dignity we celebrate during the days of Passover. Anticipating Pesah, we are optimistic. In the course of time we may feel differently, but before our festival we look forward. As spring begins, we need Passover’s reminder. We are keepers of the vision, advocates for redemption.
 
Celebrating Pesah by gathering with family and friends around our Seder Tables, we attach our personal lives and concerns to the grand and potent moral principles for which God brought our ancestors out of Egypt.
 
On Passover the food we eat teaches us to pay proper attention to each and every person we meet. Matzah symbolizes freedom and human dignity. Matzah represents goodness and truth. It is made of any grain that can ferment or become Hametz: wheat, rye, oats, barley, or spelt. On Passover, Hametz, fermented grains and foods, suggests human arrogance and injustice. Of course, grain is not honest or unjust, good or bad. We are. That’s why limiting ourselves to the pure, unleavened grains of Matzah we eat on Passover reminds us to live for and to do good, to open ourselves to others, to form relationships and honor every person.
 
The freedom and equality we seek for all people requires humility, not arrogance. We wish not to live as people serving our own wills. Fermented grain implies personal and social excess. Unleavened bread suggests modesty. Passover teaches us that human arrogance is held in check by awareness of existence beyond ourselves. The change we make from Hametz to Matzah symbolizes that our efforts in life are in service of God and the values of God’s presence in our world.
 
Matzah was there from the beginning to the end. It was not only the dough which our ancestors did not have the time to let rise as they left Egypt, but the bread of affliction which they ate as slaves. Matzah, the bread of slaves, became the sustenance of a free people.
 
On Passover we turn our basic need for food and nourishment into the symbolic agent through which we express our faith and personal values. Just as all Matzah is potentially Hametz, so are we descendants of unpretentious slaves potentially the hardened and conceited of heart and mind. One week each year we return to the core ideals and basic visions of the goodness, honesty, and dignity our lives should reflect.
 
The physical process of cleaning, preparing, and changing our homes and kitchens is intended to inform our spiritual identities. Ritual and tradition without ethics is also ritual and tradition without deeper meaning.

making our homes kosher for passover

First, before you begin cooking for the holiday, remove from your kitchen foods containing Hametz - grains and their derivatives you won’t be eating during the holiday. These include: breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, cereals, pasta, and the like. All liquids containing grain alcohol should also be removed. Many Ashkenazi families also remove legumes like rice, corn, beans, and peas, called Kitniyot, from their kitchens.
 
You may store unopened packages and dry goods you will want to use after Passover in another place, perhaps in the garage or a closet, or even in a kitchen cabinet that will remain closed throughout Pesah. These items should be "sold" before Passover to symbolically cancel your ownership of them. It is customary to make a modest contribution to feed others as part of this "sale." Many people also donate some of these foods to shelters and soup kitchens for the benefit of others.
 
Second, identify where in your kitchen you will place your Passover dishes, utensils, and cookware. If necessary, thoroughly clean your kitchen paying close attention to the cupboards and drawers you will use on Passover, the refrigerator, freezer, countertops, and sink. Your stovetop should be scrubbed clean. Afterward, turn the burners on to full flame or heat for just a moment. After cleaning your microwave oven, place a glass of water into it and turn the oven on until the water boils. A self-cleaning oven can be made ready for Passover by its normal cleaning method. Other ovens should be scoured and run on high for a brief period after they are clean. Run your empty dishwasher through a complete wash cycle to prepare it for use. When your kitchen is clean, pour boiling water over any exposed metal surfaces and you’ll be ready to bring in your Passover foods and utensils.
 
Dishes, pots, and utensils especially reserved for Passover should be used. (If you don’t have separate Passover dishes, use paper, plastic, and other disposable or recyclable items to help keep costs down.) Any utensils or pots made entirely of metal you use during the rest of the year may be placed in boiling water after they have been scoured and then used during Passover. All table glassware can be used after complete cleaning. Earthenware, enamel, wood, porcelain, and plastic items you use during the year cannot be made Kosher for Passover. Towels and linens can be used after they have been washed. Purchase new sponges for Passover. Close away or store those things in your kitchen that you will not be using during the holiday.
 
Third, bring your Kosher for Passover foods into your prepared and very clean kitchen! The only foods that require a "Kosher for Passover" label are: all Matzah products and baked goods, processed foods, (canned, bottled, or frozen) wine, vinegar, liquor, oils, dried fruits, candy, chocolate flavored milk, ice cream, yogurt, and soda. Many other products are labeled "Kosher for Passover" and it is always preferable to use them during the holiday.
 
Consumer warning: Watch out for the vast variety of foods marketed and sold for Passover that imitate Hametz. You probably won’t use or need them anyway. Keep focused on the values of the Passover holiday while remembering it is a festive and special time. A good rule of thumb is, "if I wouldn’t buy this during the other fifty-one weeks of the year, why do I need it now?"
 
On the night before the First Seder, carefully hide a few breadcrumbs around the house and send your children on a hunt to find them. This is known as Bedikat Hametz, a final search to rid the house of Hametz. The quaint custom is to take a feather and wooden spoon, scoop the breadcrumbs into a paper bag, and then burn it all. The B’rakhot, blessings, that are recited for this ritual are found in most Haggadot.
 
In addition to delivering your hametz for the use of others, consider making a contribution to Congregation Beth El for Jewish Family Service’s Passover Food Drive and/or Mazon: A Jewish Response To Hunger to provide food for those in need. This tzedakah is known in Jewish tradition as Ma’ot Hitim (Grain Money.)
 
Finally, prepare your Seder celebration in advance of your family and friend’s arrival. Preparing a meaningful Seder is one of the most important needs we have as Passover approaches. Think about who will be present with you, how long they can sit, what ideas and activities will best interest and engage them, and how you can join together in retelling the story of our people’s Exodus from Egypt. A “talking Seder” of discussion, games, or activities and conversation using the Haggadah for the Seder’s order, prayers, and explanation of symbols works well!
 

siyyum b'khorim - first born minyan & breakfast

Friday April 19 at 7:30 a.m.

Siyyum B’khorim is a morning minyan and celebration of learning followed by a light breakfast, the last hametz meal before Passover. The tradition of participating in a Siyyum B’khorim marks the role of the first born of both Israel and Egypt in the Exodus story. Attendance at this minyan is a special mitzvah for all first-born males. First born daughters and everyone else are always welcome.

schedule of Passover services

Passover holiday services at Congregation Beth El are warm and special times. We invite you to join the meaning, spirit and beauty of celebrating Passover with our synagogue family. During our Festival Morning Services, we’ll celebrate freedom and the personal meanings we find in Passover. We’ll hear personal stories about Seder memories. We’ll invite for Torah honors synagogue friends who have experienced personal redemptions this year or, as we count the Omer, who anticipate significant moments in the coming weeks and, sadly, who are observing their first Yizkor Service in memory of a loved one as Passover concludes. Modern poetry will enhance the Psalms we recite and special kavanot, reflections, will introduce moments of prayer. We look forward to lovely and meaningful services throughout Pesah!

Friday, April 19|First Seder Night
 
Saturday, April 20| 9:30 am | First Day of Passover Festival Morning Service
Second Seder Night | 6:45 pm | Congregational Community 2nd Seder Celebration
 
Sunday, April 21| 9:30 am| Second Day of Passover Festival Morning Service
 
Friday, April 26 | 9:30 am | Seventh Day of Passover Festival Morning Service
 
Saturday, April 27 | 9:30 am | Eighth Day of Passover Festival Morning Service and Yizkor Memorial Prayers
followed by Shabbat Passover Luncheon - please RSVP here
 

Hospitality for Seders

“Let all who are hungry come and eat! Do you have extra place(s) at your Seder Table? Do you need Seder hospitality this year?
 
Please contact the synagogue office to place your name on a list, if you have room at your Seder table, or if you would like to find a Seder to attend.
 
If you are able to host, please make sure to tell us how many people you can host, and for which night. As we are contacted, we will match you up.
 
Thank you!

Update this content.

      Ma’ot Hitim Fund

It is a time-honored tradition to help the less fortunate purchase goods for their own Passover observance.
 
At Congregation Beth El, we collaborate with Jewish Family Service to provide Passover foods to homebound seniors and families in need.
 
Please consider financial contributions or Kosher for Passover canned or boxed food donations by April 18, 2019.
 
As well, we support Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger at this holiday season.
 
Wed, April 24 2019 19 Nisan 5779