Passover 5777: A Complete Guide

An Overview By Rabbi David Kosak

Click here for the Rabbinical Assembly’s Pesach Guide for 2017/5777

Passover is one of our beloved Jewish holidays. It is rich with history, symbolism, meaning and philosophy. The more we put into preparing and observing the mitzvoth of Pesach, the more the holiday can impact us and transmit to us its many lessons.

The central narrative of Passover is the retelling of the exodus from Egypt. Thus, the central theme is how we gained our freedom. Like all important concepts, freedom defies easy definition. As is typical in Judaism, we try to experience our concepts so that they are not just intellectual ideas we think about.

We achieve this, for example, by eating matzoh. This symbolic food represents two notions. First, how we quickly left Egypt so that our bread did not have time to rise. Second, how the Torah clearly and strongly reminds us not to eat anything that is hametz during the week of Pesach.

Hametz includes all food items made from wheat, oats, barley, rye or spelt, even if these ingredients appear in the smallest possible amount. To follow this commandment, we thoroughly clean our homes and our kitchens, put away or kasher pots and pans that have been used during the year, and cover or clean our counters, sinks and ovens. We even sell whatever hametz may remain in our homes. Click here for the form to sell your hametz to Rabbi David Kosak. This allows you to keep hametz items locked away in your home over Passover so that you don’t need to suffer substantial financial loss.

Each year, our highly industrialized food production system brings new challenges to those of us who would keep kosher. Items that seem like they are hametz-free may not actually be. Dried fruits, for example, are often sprayed with hametz-based starches to allow for easier mass production. Oils or decaffeinated coffee are processed with starch-based chemicals. Appliances gain new technologies and materials, all of which require distinct methods to properly clean. Some plastics are non-porous and can be kashered, others are quite absorbent, and must be put away for the holiday, such as those Tupperware containers that get stained with spaghetti sauce.

All of this focus on cleaning and avoiding hametz may seem a bit overboard, but try to imagine the Passover story and seder occurring at a table loaded down with French bread, penne and oreo cookies. Freedom, after all, is invisible when you possess it. All of these ritual actions give shape, form and flavor to values like freedom, family, exile and Jewishness.

This year, you can click here for the Rabbinical Assembly’s Pesach Guide for 2017/5777. Updated in March with input from one of the country’s top food scientists, it outlines cleaning procedures in your home, current information about which foods require kosher supervision for Passover and which do not, as well as links to material on how those who choose to eat kitniyot on Passover may do so. Kitniyot are those items such as beans or rice, which swell up and that Ashkenazic authorities of old prohibited. While the Conservative movement permits kitniyot for those who choose, there are specific concerns and instructions that are outlined on the link located on page seven on the guide.

Let me wish you all a happy, meaningful and kosher Passover.

A Zissen Pesach,

Rav D

Shtar Harsha’ah: Document of Authorization for the Sale of Hametz

Click here to download document to fill out for selling your hametz.

 An Inspirational Women’s Passover Experience
This even has now passed

Join us! An Inspirational Women’s Passover Experience – This event has passed.
Monday, April 3rd 6:30pm, Birnbach Hall
Join Rabbi Eve Posen for an intimate evening of insight and inspiration as we gear up for Passover.
This year’s theme is: We were slaves, now we are free.
Delectable appetizers, desserts and wine provided by Ta’eemmm.
$18/person. RSVP:

Information for Passover 5777

Help prepare a sweet Pesach package for our congregation’s college students. We will be meeting on Tuesday, March 28 @6:30pm at Wendy Kahn’s home. To RSVP, please contact For more information, contact Deb Freedberg,

Monday, April 10, 7:00am – Mornign Minyan; 7:40am – Siyyum
On the morning of the Pesach seder, first born children are required to fast in commemoration of the first born Egyptians who lost their life during the tenth plague. Our fasting beautifully demonstrates our compassion even for our enemies. That said, we have another tradition to mark when we complete a book of Jewish learning with a celebratory meal. This “siyyum” overrides the fast for those who attend the study session. This year, Rabbi Eve Posen will give a “siyyum” on Pirkei Imahot, the lovely book that she and Lois Shenker have just published. Please join us after morning minyan (which starts at 7:00am) in Zidell Chapel on Monday, April 10th at approximately 7:40 am.

Host or Be Hosted! Seders – Monday, April 10 and Tuesday, April 11
Need a place to celebrate Pesach? Interested in sharing your home for someone in the community that would like to take part in Pesach with your family? Please contact Membership and Engagement Director, Daniela Meltzer, to get connected,

Sunday, April 16, 10-11:30am
Join your Shoreshim friends for a morning of fun with a Passover Twist. For more information, contact at: FREE

You can find a list of all of the community seder options by visiting:


  • Morning Minyan and “Siyyum” on Pirkei Imahot – Monday, April 10, 7:00am
  • *Pesach Day 1 Service – Tuesday, April 11, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • *Pesach Day 2 Service – Wednesday, April 12, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • Morning Minyan Chol HaMoed Pesach – Thurs/Fri, April 13-14, 7:00am, Zidell Chapel
  • Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach – Saturday, April 15, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • Morning Minyan Chol HaMoed Pesach – Sunday, April 16, Zidell Chapel
  • *Pesach Day 7 Service – Monday, April 17, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • *Pesach Day 8 Service (Yizkor) – Tuesday, April 18, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • *Office Closed

Please always take care to call the store before heading over to make sure items are still in stock.
More information is also at Oregon Kosher HERE.