Passover Guide

Note: This guide is an expanded version of the guide that appeared in the March Doorpost.

Passover Guide

What follows is a general guideline of dietary regulations for Passover. This guideline was constructed bearing in mind the fact that Kosher for Passover items are not readily available in our community. This guide is for use by our congregants and is not intended to set standards for other communities. Any questions should be directed to the Rabbi, who would be happy to clarify any doubts.

Prohibited foods: Prohibited foods are those that contain fermented or leavened grain that has been exposed to water for 18 minutes prior to cooking or baking. These foods are called Chametz. Examples include breads, cake, crackers, cereal, cookies, pasta, candy, or any product containing grain derivatives such as flavors made with grain alcohol, grain vinegar, liquors, beer, etc. Ashkenazic tradition also prohibits the use of rice, corn, beans, and peas known as Kitniyot (commonly called legumes). In March of 2015 The Law Committee of The Conservative Movement authorized two responsas that relaxed the Ashkanaz prohibition. For more information please click here

Permitted foods: The following foods do not require “Kosher for Passover” labels if purchased prior to Passover. Note labels must be checked to verify that these items are in their pure form with no additives unless otherwise specified: coffee, tea, cane sugar, salt, whole or ground unprocessed spices, frozen fruit juice (no additives), fresh fruit juice, frozen vegetables without seasonings or sauces (see note above re: bean and pea products), frozen fruit, dried fruit (may contain potassium sorbate), potato starch, milk, cream, domestic cheese (real cheese and not cheese food, sliced cheese often contains Chametz starch), and butter. Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Sprite and Diet 7-Up may be used without a special Passover certification. NOTE: According to those who refrain from Kitnyot non-diet versions of these sodas require special Passover certification as the sweetener is a Kitniyot derivative.

The following products may also be purchased on Passover without a special Passover certification: fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, eggs, fresh fish, and fresh meat.

All other processed foods require a special Kosher for Passover certification. Stickers that do not bear the name of a recognized rabbi or symbol of a national group should be suspect; any questions should be referred to the Rabbi.

Detergents: Detergents do not require a special “Kosher for Passover” label, however, new containers should be used.

Medication: Discontinuing any medication, which you are taking at the advice of a doctor, is prohibited according to Halacha. If you are taking a medication that you suspect contains Chametz please consult the Rabbi prior to discontinuing said medication. Many medications do contain Chametz binders; the Rabbi is available to discuss any medical issues with both you and your doctor.


Utensils and dishes: It is customary (and easiest) to remove the utensils and dishes that are used during the year, replacing them with either new utensils or utensils reserved for exclusive use on Passover. Please contact Rabbi Senter for details, instruction and/or a home visit to assist in koshering any year round appliances, dishes or utensils.

Specific items are covered below.

Ovens and ranges: Every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly cleaned. This includes the walls and the top and bottom of the oven. The oven or range should then be heated at its highest possible temperature. The oven should be heated at maximum heat for an hour; the range top should be heated until the elements turn red and glow. Parts of the range top around the elements that can be covered should be covered (usually with aluminum foil), and carefully heated. After a general and careful cleaning, a self-cleaning oven is put through the full cleaning cycle while empty.

Microwave ovens that have no convection option should be thoroughly cleaned. Then place an eight-ounce cup of water inside the oven and microwave until the water almost disappears. (At least 6 of the 8 ounces need to evaporate.) Do not heat until the water is completely evaporated, as this may damage the oven. A microwave/convection or browning oven is kashered like regular ovens. When cleaning, be sure to thoroughly clean around the fan.

Dishwashers need to be cleaned as thoroughly as possible, including the inside area around the drainage and filters. Then run a full cycle with detergent (with racks inserted) while empty.

Metal kitchen sinks can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing the sink (especially the garbage catch), letting it sit for 24 hours, and then carefully pouring boiling water over all the surfaces of the sink, including the lip. A porcelain sink cannot be kashered, but should be thoroughly cleaned and used with Passover dish basins and dish drains, one each for dairy and for meat.

Refrigerators and freezers are cleaned using any household cleaner.

On Sunday April 9 we make a formal search of the home while holding a lit candle. It is customary to put pieces of hard bread in various places some time before the search, so that the one who searches will find them.

Before starting the search, the following blessing is recited:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al biur chametz.

We praise You, Adonai, eternal God, who has sanctified us with the commandments and instructed us concerning the removal of Chametz.

Members of the household should stand nearby to hear the blessing, with each one then searching his or her own areas making certain that the entire home is searched.

After the search, the Chametz is retained to be eaten or to be burnt in the morning.

After the search, one must also nullify [the Chametz he may have overlooked] and say:

All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which Iam unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.

Service of the Firstborn: It is customary on the morning before Passover for the firstborn in each family to fast in recognition of the fact that our ancestors’ firstborn were spared during the plague of the firstborn. Since fasting would be difficult the morning prior to the Seder, the practice of holding a Siyum was instituted. The Siyum is a celebration of the completion of a section of Torah with a meal. This celebration of Torah takes precedence over the obligation to fast. The Rabbi’s Siyum will be held on Monday morning, April 10, beginning at 8:30am. All firstborn are invited to attend.

Maos Chittim: Jews preparing to celebrate Passover have always been concerned that everyone in the Jewish community be able to do so. Maos Chittim is a special mitzvah of helping those in need buy Passover supplies and celebrate the holiday in a dignified fashion. To participate in this important mitzvah you can make a contribution to the Maos Chittim fund c/o Temple Israel.

Burning The Chametz: The morning before Passover (Friday) we must destroy all Chametz that remains in our possession before the end of the fifth hour after sunrise. The preferred manner of destroying the Chametz is burning. We will have a communal Chametz burning at the Synagogue Monday morning, April 10, beginning at 11:00am. If you can not be present just leave your bag at the Court Street door and we will burn it for you. Note: put your name on the bag so we know whom we are representing when we burn your Chametz. Only Chametz wrapped in paper bags should be brought; NO PLASTIC.


“For seven days, leaven shall not be found in your house . . .” Exodus 12.19

Jewish law prohibits the possession of leaven, “Chametz,” during Passover. Traditionally Jewish people have disowned their “Chametz” by selling it through an intricate legal document executed by a Rabbi.

To avoid having “Chametz” in your possession during Passover, please fill out the “MECHIRAT CHAMETZ” form and return it to Rabbi Senter. It is preferable to sell your Chametz in person. If you are not able to meet with the Rabbi personally you may use the online form by clicking here