Rabbi's Update 3/25/2022
As Passover approaches I have gathered some resources to help you get ready for the holiday, sell your chametz through me, and so on. A reminder that Hazzan Komrad will lead a Zoom seder on the second night of Passover if there is sufficient interest. If you would like to participate, please email Ritual VP Bryan Levenson at firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day today.
First Seder night: Friday, April 15
Second Seder night: Saturday, April 16
Pesach ends: Saturday, April 23 at 8:36 pm
Sale of chametz: please use this form to appoint me as your agent to sell your chametz. Please note that the deadline to fill out the form is Thursday, April 14 at 7 am and cannot be extended.
Siyyum b’chorim (special service for firstborns to exempt them from the Fast of the First Born):
Once again this year we will be participating in the siyyum provided by the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary. The siyyum will be at 8 am on Friday, April 15. Register at this link.
Preparing for and observing the Pesach Seder:
While the COVID situation is much better than it was the past two years, every individual needs to evaluate their own risk as to whether or not it is advisable to gather with people outside your household. It is permitted to conduct a Seder over Zoom or similar technology and include friends and family who cannot safely join you in person. Ideally there should be a seder plate at each location but at a minimum each location should have three matzahs, wine or grape juice, carpas (any green vegetable), maror (any bitter vegetable), and salt water.
Additionally we will provide the following resources:
Along with Hazzan Komrad I have recorded a “Virtual Seder” which you can use to help you learn to conduct your own Seder. The Virtual Seder can be accessed here.
The Virtual Seder uses the downloadable “Family Haggadah” from PJ Library which is available here. You may also wish to use this for your own seder.
Keeping Kosher for Pesach:
While supply chains are less disrupted this year than previous years, there are still shortages of various items which can be unpredictable. Many of us continue to refrain from or limit in-person shopping. While online shopping alternatives exist, those of us who use them regularly know that substitutions are sometimes made or wrong products delivered and it is not always possible to determine the kosher status of a particular product from the website. Moti’s Market delivers to our area and their online store clearly indicates whether or not a product is Kosher for Passover. Like everyone else they are limited by availability of product and have limited delivery time slots available.
Bear in mind that while it is prohibited to eat chametz (“leavened products” which combine liquid and any of the five grains wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye) it is required to eat matzah only for the Seder. If you are having difficulty obtaining matzah this is helpful to remember.
Karpas can be any vegetable (in Israel it is commonly a boiled potato). Maror can be any vegetable which brings a tear to the eye if consumed raw. In Israel it is usually romaine lettuce but it could be hot peppers, fresh ginger, mustard greens or raw lemon if horseradish is unavailable.
As I referenced in my general Passover guide, the CJLS in 2015 permitted all Jews, not just Sephardim, to consume kitniyot (“legumes”, things such as beans, rice, and corn) on Passover. Last year the CJLS urged everyone to permit the consumption of kitniyot and general guidance can be found in my above article. Although the state of food supplies and other logistic issues differ from locale to locale as of this writing, the CJLS renews the suggestion that anyone facing continued challenges finding foods appropriate for Passover again consider adopting the guidance of the 2015 teshuvah.
I have previously written and discussed the halachic concept of bitul b’shishim which means that an amount of non-kosher food or drink which is less than 1/60th of the total volume is nullified and the product remains kosher. While this doesn’t apply to chametz during Pesach, it does apply before Pesach and we formally nullify any chametz in our possession the night before and the morning of the first Seder. In practical terms it means that if one didn’t sort through the beans or rice they bought before Pesach and they happen to find a grain of chametz in it before cooking, they can simply discard the chametz and the food remains permissible.
The concept of bitul b’shishim also means that while we normally strive to buy products which are certified for Passover, in a crisis situation such as this year we can rely on bitul to purchase products which we know do not contain any chametz but might have been produced on a production line which is also used for chametz. The CJLS has published a more in depth guide to Pesach shopping for this year which can be accessed here. An addendum specific to this year can be found here.
We continue to be deeply concerned about the welfare of the Ukrainian people under attack from Russia and those who have fled the country. Our own Masorti (Conservative) movement has been active in Ukraine for decades with what was until recently a thriving network of congregations, schools, and camps. If you want to assist the worldwide Masorti effort in Ukraine and neighboring countries please give at this link.
As a reminder, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has established a Ukraine Emergency Fund to meet emergency humanitarian needs. You can find out more and donate here.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at email@example.com or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian