Passover Sale of Hametz

Passover Guide 2024

Dear Friends,

As we are now within two weeks of Passover, I am sharing the sale of hametz form, attached here, and the following, which are my guidelines on the observance of Passover that I distribute each year. I understand that there are various degrees to which Passover is kept in our various homes, and I respect all ways that Judaism is marked in our families. What follows are guidelines for keeping kosher-for-Passover according to my reading of Jewish law. You may also wish to consult the Rabbinical Assembly’s Passover guide, at this link:

Pesah-Guide-5784.pdf (

To keep kosher for Passover, the first thing that one must do is rid the household of hametz (i.e., food that is not kosher-for-Passover). This is because we are not only forbidden to eat hametz during Passover, we are also forbidden to own it.

Selling of Hametz. One tries to finish up foodstuffs in the house, especially perishables. What one does not finish, if unopened, may be donated for the hungry. All opened foodstuffs are considered hametz, since they may have come into contact with hametz. What one wishes to keep, one must “sell” for the week of Passover. I, and most rabbis, act as agents for their communities in the sale of hametz. Individuals will authorize me to sell their hametz. I then, as the collective agent, sell the hametz of the community to a non-Jew, usually Maureen. The sale will be written in such a way that Maureen, while owning all the hametz, will not actually take physical possession of it until after Passover. But by that time, the sale will have been cancelled and ownership will revert back to the original owners. Trust me, Maureen will not come to raid our liquor cabinets! However, since we do not actually own this food during Passover, what we do is put the nonperishable foods away, out of sight. They can be stored for the week in the garage or basement. Or they can be kept in the pantry, and if so, the pantry or specific cabinets containing such foods can be closed off with masking tape (so we don’t accidentally eat “Maureen’s food”). You can authorize me to sell your hametz by filling out the form attached to this email and emailing or delivering it to the synagogue office, or by emailing me at and asking me to sell all hametz in your possession. Please send me the authorization no later than Friday, April 19th. I do need the authorization in writing (so please no voicemail messages), and the authorization must contain the address (or addresses) of property where you want the hametz to be sold. It is customary to make a small donation with the authorization to sell hametz. If you give me cash, or send in a check for the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund with a note that it is for Passover, I will forward the funds to Mazon, the national Jewish organization based in Los Angeles that collects food to feed the hungry. I am usually able to send Mazon a few hundred dollars each year from this fundraiser. Let’s be generous to support the needy this Passover. As we start to shop for our family seders, let us not forget this important mitzvah of providing for others.

Please use the form here to sell Hametz.

Making the kitchen kosher for Passover. Making the kitchen kosher for Passover means cleaning out the fridge of all foodstuffs (or taping off the shelves of the fridge containing sold hametz) and thoroughly cleaning all the counters, tables, cabinets and other areas where food is stored, prepared, cooked and served. Some will cover their countertops and shelves with lining (or aluminum foil) to signify that those areas are kosher-for-Passover and to prevent contact with any hametz that might not have been cleaned. Others simply clean the countertops. All flatware, dishes and cooking utensils must also be stored away or taped off. The easiest thing to do is to have separate sets of Passover dishes, utensils and pots and pans. That is preferable to “kashering.” But if one must, metal items can be “kashered” by submersion in boiling water after cleaning. Take your largest metal pot and boil water in it so that the water boils over. That pot is now kosher for Passover. Then, drop metal utensils in the pot of boiling water, and those become kosher for Passover in turn. Make sure to keep the kashered items separate from the other items. There are some rabbinic opinions that treat hard plastics the same as metal. That is, if the plastic can withstand boiling water, then it can be kashered. I prefer not to kasher plastics. The Conservative movement also permits the kashering of glassware simply through the dishwasher. We have always done that in my family. The more traditional opinion is soaking the glassware in water for 72 hours. Finally, earthenware and wooden utensils should not be kashered. There is a tradition that fine expensive china can be kashered by not being used for a period of six months to a year. This tradition is to save us from losing our “inheritance” just because the china wasn’t kosher. While we may want our best china to be used for Passover, it is acceptable to use even paper plates, if that is done in order to observe and celebrate the traditions of Passover. However, we should also be mindful of not overproducing waste and harming our environment. Simple glass dishware is always a simple solution for Passover.

Finally, there are parts of the kitchen that cannot be exchanged for Passover, like the sink, stove, oven, and dishwasher. If the sink is metal, pour boiling water over it. If it is porcelain (which is unfortunate from the point of view of Jewish law) then use a plastic sink liner for Passover. The stovetop should be cleaned and that is sufficient (unless you eat off the stovetop. If you do, just don’t do that on Passover!). The self-cleaning device for a conventional oven will kasher the oven. If the oven does not have a self-cleaning mechanism, then a blowtorch is required to kasher the oven. One “hit” with the blowtorch will suffice. But only use that if you know how! The best thing to do with a barbeque is put in new racks. Otherwise the racks would need to be covered with aluminum foil. The dishwasher should be run once with an empty load.

Buying Passover Foods. Fruits and vegetables and (kosher) meats are kosher for Passover. Just rinse them with water as you normally should do. Everything else is more complicated. Milk does not require a kosher-for-Passover marking if it is bought prior to Passover so buy your milk before Passover. All processed foods should ideally have a kosher-for-Passover marking. Because so many ingredients are added to foodstuffs today, it is easiest to buy only kosher-for-Passover foods. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are plenty of kosher products available. Our supermarkets and local kosher butchers carry many items that are kosher-for-Passover.

The “Nullification of Hametz”. On Sunday night, April 21st, we search the house for hametz (we search with a candle, a ritual that I always looked forward to growing up) and we burn the hametz (in the driveway in a paper bag, perhaps contained in a tin) on Monday morning, April 22nd. When we burn the hametz we recite a formula that nullifies all hametz in our possession that we know or don’t know of. The purpose of this is to protect us just in case we forgot to either sell or get rid of certain hametz. It is a legal “safeguard” and meaningful ritual at the same time. The text with instructions is found in most haggadot for Passover in the first few pages.

The Fast of the Firstborn when firstborn are asked to fast from sun-up until the Seder to remember the first born of Egypt who died in the tenth plague, is observed on Monday, April 22nd, the day before Passover. Traditionally, synagogues hold a siyyum after minyan on that morning when the rabbi or someone else teaches the concluding paragraph of a tractate of Talmud, following which it is a mitzvah to celebrate with a meal, taking precedence over the fast. By attending the siyyum and then having a bite to eat, one can be exempted from the fast. While this observance has been traditionally limited to first-born males, in my opinion it ought to include first born females as well. Temple Israel and Glen Rock Jewish Center have been combining for the siyyum for erev Pesach. This year, we will meet at Glen Rock Jewish Center on Monday morning, April 22nd, at 7:30am. As the visiting rabbi, I am invited to teach the Talmud lesson and lead the siyyum.

The Passover Seder. We celebrate the Seder on Monday and Tuesday evenings, April 22nd and 23rd. As has become a tradition at Temple Israel, we will join for a communal seder on the second night, Tuesday, April 23rd, beginning at 6:30pm, led by myself and Rabbi Moser. Alla, Laurence, Ariel and I look forward to celebrating then with our larger synagogue family. The Haggadah is the special book containing the Seder service. There are more haggadot published than any other book in the world. At a Jewish bookstore or online you will find a wonderful selection. I generally recommend the Rabbinical Assembly haggadah, The Feast of Freedom or the Central Conference of American Rabbis haggadah, Mishkan HaSeder.

Yom Tov and Hol HaMoed. Tuesday and Wednesday, April 23rd and 24th, and Monday and Tuesday, April 29th and 30th, are called “yom tov” or festivals. These days are treated like Shabbat in that we are supposed to refrain from work. Temple Israel holds festival services on those days similar to our Shabbat services. (But on the first two days, the 23rd and 24th, we start a half hour later than usual, at 9:30, because we were all at a Seder late the previous evenings.) The “intermediate days” between the festival days are called “Hol HaMoed” when we still eat only kosher-for-Passover foods, but we are permitted to work (except for Shabbat).

Yizkor. On the final day of Passover, Tuesday, April 30th, we say the Yizkor prayers within the service, remembering those who used to celebrate with us and are here no longer. It is customary to make a donation to the synagogue where Yizkor is said in memory of our loved ones.

End of Passover. Passover ends Tuesday night, April 30th, at 8:38pm. Many enjoy a hearty meal of carbs that evening.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding these guidelines, or anything else.

Passover has a special greeting: hag kasher v’sameah (a kosher and a happy holiday!). Usually we just say hag sameah (happy holiday!) on Jewish festivals. But on Passover we wish one another a kosher and happy holiday, because we are challenged to keep kosher-for-Passover for eight days.

Alla, Laurence, Ariel and I wish you and yours a kosher and happy Passover. Hag kasher v’sameah