Photo-essay: preparing for Passover [interesting]

Photo Essay: Preparing for Passover 
by Ben Bresky 

The holiday of Passover includes refraining from eating bread, bread products or anything that comes into contact with leavened bread products. As stipulated by ancient tradition, the removal of bread is considered even stricter then other laws of kosher food during the rest of the year. The large and festive Seder night meal thus includes many different foods, but they are eaten with the traditional matza, or unleavened bread, as well as the wine, bitter herbs and other items found on the Seder plate.


To ensure that any trace of leavened bread products, or chametz, are removed, some dip their metal pots and pans into boiling water. This is done after a thorough scrubbing to remove any caked-on food. Others have a separate set of Passover dishes and pots and pack up their regular cookware. Throughout Israel one can find synagogues with boiling vats of water. Such sites can even be found on the street corner. 


In Ethiopia, the Jewish community had a slightly different ritual. Most used homemade cookware was made of ceramics or clay. Since such items cannot be kashered, it made more sense to ceremonially break the cookware and make new ones for Passover use and subsequently for the rest of the year. 

Many food products are donated to the poor, both in the Jewish and non-Jewish community. Food products that cannot realistically be consumed or disposed of, are symbolically sold or leased to a non-Jewish person. Such a ritual enables a Jewish person to store away such products for the week of Passover and retrieve them again after the lease has ended.

The night before Passover, a ceremonial search for the chametz takes place, often with a feather to sweep up the crumbs or a leftover lulav from the Sukkot holiday. A candle or flashlight is used to search every nook and cranny. Children often enjoy this tradition. The prayer recited, translated from Hebrew is as follows: "Be blessed, Hashem, Our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the removal of leaven."


Passover begins at sundown. The morning of Passover eve, all chametz is either eaten before a certain hour, burned, or disposed of otherwise. A special prayer is recited absolving the reciter from any ownership of the bread products. The prayer, translated from Aramaic, is as follows: "Let any leaven within the area of my home, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have removed it or not, be nullified and become owner-less, like the dust of the earth."