Passover 5778: A Complete Guide

An Overview By Rabbi David Kosak

Click here for the Rabbinical Assembly’s Pesach Guide for 2018/5778

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 2018/5778. 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. For those who will eat rice during Pesach, please be sure to purchase a certified Gluten-free brand before the holiday begins. Much rice on the market is sprayed with starch for processing needs. Gluten-free varieties do not use this starch.

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.

Information for Passover 5778

Help prepare a sweet Pesach package for our congregation’s college students. We will be meeting on Wednesday, March 28 @6:30pm at Jennifer Kalenscher’s home. To RSVP and more information, please contact: Jennifer Kalenscher at

Friday, March 30, 7:00am – Morning Minyan; 7:40am – Siyyum, Zidell Chapel
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 Stampfer will give a “siyyum.”


Host or Be Hosted! Seders – Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31
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,


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


  • Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach (Day 1 Service) -Saturday, March 31, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • Pesach Day 2 Service – Sunday, April 1, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • Morning Minyan Chol HaMoed Pesach – Monday-Thursday, April 2-5, 7:00am, Zidell Chapel
  • *Pesach Day 7 Service – Friday, April 6, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel
  • Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach (Day 8 Service with Yizkor) – Saturday, April 7, 9:00am, Stampfer Chapel

*Office Closed

We list this as a service, but are not able to guarantee that the locations indeed have kosher for Passover items. Please always take care to call the store before heading over to make sure items are still in stock.

Do you need a Seder Plate? Are you wanting to gift your loved one a new Elijah’s Cup? The Gloria Bacharach Judaica Shop will take care of your Passover needs.
  • Monday-Thursday: 11:00am-1:00pm
  • Wednesday Evenings*: 4:15-6:00pm
  • Friday: 10:00am-12:30pm
  • Sunday’s are closed until after ALIYAH break/Passover
*When religious school is in session.
Note that the Gift Shop is volunteer run. Please call ahead of time to make sure it is open. You can also make an appointment by calling Marsha Strongin at: 512.422.1649.