What kind of person wakes up one morning and decides to cover their kitchen worktops in plastic, their oven hobs in tinfoil and kitchen shelves with paper? Are they following a crazy new trend in interior design? No, like me they’re preparing for the Jewish festival of Passover.
During the 8 days of Passover Jewish people must not eat bread or have bread in their houses or any products that might have come into contact with bread. We can eat matzo which is a kind of flat bread.
Preparing for Passover
· To make absolutely sure that there is no bread in the house we check every nook and cranny for traces of it. This is a good excuse for a bit of spring cleaning and most people start about a month before the festival. In the kitchen where the food is prepared for Passover we have to be even more particular. That is why even after cleaning, we’ll cover our worktops, oven hobs and shelving.
· At the same time as the cleaning, there is the Passover shopping frenzy. Owners of shops serving the Jewish community have to create special bread free sections. All the processed food we buy has to be certified “Kosher for Pesach”. We need to stock up on meat, chicken, fish and fruit and vegetables as there will be very little opportunity to shop or cook during the festival. The Jewish shops are heaving as the entire community stocks up for the week.
· When the shopping is done and the kitchen is ready it’s time to cook. I’ve booked days off work so I can fill my freezer with” Pesadich” dishes for my family.
Why is this night different?
It’s very satisfying and exhausting but once the cleaning, shopping and cooking is done I can think about enjoying the festival.
On the first two nights, families gather together around the table to retell the story of the Exodus. This is called a Seder. We want the children to be able to pass the story on to the next generation. At my Seder there will be several grandchildren. We keep them interested by doing everything a bit differently. We tell the story while eating symbolic food to represent various stages of the story. We encourage the children to ask questions. At many Seders each plague is represented by appropriate toys. Children are sent on a treasure hunt around the house to look for a piece of matzo. In the middle of all this we eat a really tasty Passover meal.
Each year I see Passover as a huge mountain to climb but once I get started I start to enjoy it. There is a sense of the whole community doing the same thing at the same time. There is camaraderie among the shoppers negotiating trolleys up and down the narrow aisles in local shops. We are all heading for the same goal. We want to make Pesach an enriching experience for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.