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Passover Plans

As I mentioned a few days ago, this week the Jewish holiday of Passover begins. And since no one has asked, I thought I'd tell everyone about our plans for the holiday.

Most people who have some familiarity with the holiday know that for the first two nights, we observe a Passover seder. The word "seder" literally means "order," and the seder itself is essentially a ritual meal during which we retell the Biblical story of the exodus from Egypt. During the holiday, we're not supposed to eat any food considered "chametz," meaning for the most part that yeast is forbidden. But it also means cleaning one's home and signing away ownership of any food or dishes considered chametz. We cover the counters, change the tablecloths, etc. "Kosher for Passover" is much more complicated than simply "kosher."

When I was growing up, my family always went to my paternal grandmother's apartment for the seders. In the past few years, Nomi and I have done seder with her parents, wherever they are. This year, her parents are joining the extended Feld family at a resort in Maine, and so are we. From the blogosphere, Nomi's sister and brother-in-law (beckyfeld and osewalrus) will be there, as well as estherchaya and sethcohen.

I've never done the "go to a resort thing" for Passover before, but I can certainly understand the appeal. You don't have to worry about the cooking or cleaning yourself, as everything is taken care of for you. And even though you had to clean your home for Pesach, you don't have to have your own extra set of dishes specifically for the holiday. A few years ago, a long-time friend of mine and her family were staying in a hotel in Cambridge for the holiday, and they invited us to join them for lunch on one of the chol ha'moed days. What I mostly recall from that lunch was that the moment you finished eating something, the staff brought something else out for you to eat. And when lunch was over, they brought out trays of desserts and snacks. The impression I got was that for all eight days, no matter what time of day or night, there would always be food available. (From what I've been told, the atmosphere is similar to that found on cruise ships.)

It would be convenient if Nomi and I could stay at the resort for all eight days, with the rest of the family, but we can't. We've both got work to do over chol ha'moed. So we'll leave after the first few days of the holiday and observe the rest of Passover at home. As for the last two yom tov days, we have invitations out for dinner Tuesday night and lunch Thursday, and if anyone were to invite us for the Wednesday meals, we'd be unlikely to turn them down.

And then Thursday night things get a little nuts. The instant the holiday ends, we're jumping on a train to Richmond, Virginia, in order to attend Ravencon and then spend a day with my younger brother and his family, so we can finally meet my new nephew Noah. The problem is that we can't just start eating regular kosher food again, as there's a requirement to wait a few hours after the holiday ends before retaking ownership of chametz. So we'll be taking some prepackaged food with us for the train ride, and then relying on the kindness of madwriter, who has graciously agreed to go shopping for us in Richmond on Friday so we'll have regular kosher food again in time for shabbat.

And then, once we get home again, we'll have to change the place over from Passover to regular. Oy!

But it'll all be worth it in the end.


my parents live in a resort community in SC. they've noticed the huge increase in folks coming to the island for thanksgiving. it gets as busy as it does in the summer. many families of people who live there, to be sure, but also the hotels get completely booked. same concept: no spending days cooking, and no cleanup afterwards!
Of course, I'm going to be awfully red-faced if I can't find anything...:o
Don't worry. We'll include possibilities on the list of things you can find everywhere, like Cheerios.
A good Jewish household has *seven* sets of dishes:

fancy meat
fancy dairy
regular meat
regular dairy
fancy passover meat
passover meat
passover dairy

No wonder the kitchen cabinets always seem crowded! (Though we store away all but the everyday dishes, and I think we don't have any fancy ones. We live out of bins for the week of passover.)
Have to check in storage and see whether we have fancy Passover meat, to make sure there's a full set... :-)
For many years, inviting people over for dinner meant going out & buying dishes.
A few hours after the holiday ends? That seems excessive. In my experience, the time people are advised to wait is more on the order of 15-20 minutes. The rabbi who sells the chametz has an appointment with the purchaser the minute the holiday is over, and the contract has already been prepared beforehand, so signing it and buying all the chametz back only takes a few minutes. The 15-20 minutes is in case the purchaser is late.

In any case, if you take the chametz before it has been bought back, at worst it's like eating stuff in the supermarket while you're waiting in the checkout queue. So long as you keep the package to be scanned, so you can pay for it, they don't mind. I'm sure the purchaser, who is about to sell it back, doesn't mind if you dip into his stock.
In our community this year, we were told that the chametz will come back to us at 9:30 on Thursday night, by which time we will already be on the train...
Well, all I can say is that you're not getting good service from your rabbi :-) Sunset that day in Boston will be at 7:31. By 8:15 the holiday should be well and truly over, and if I were your rabbi I'd have the purchaser already waiting in my office, enjoying a sample of the property that he's about to sell back to me, and by 8:20 the deal would be done.
Well, all I can say is that you're not getting good service from your rabbi :-)

First of all, it's not the rabbi who is acting as the community's agent in this matter. Secondly, the person who is acting as our community's agent told us to wait until 9:30 in order to be safe and make sure that the transaction has been completed. Now, he may very well be hoping to do the transaction at 8:15, but he wants to make sure that we don't unintentionally violate halacha. This is one of the standard things we do in Judaism, building a fence around the Torah.

Finally, I don't appreciate having my community rabbi criticized for not giving good service, even in jest.
I hadn't made the connection until now that you were going to the same place as osewalrus! Ironically, we almost went there, but for various reasons decided to go to the same group's other gathering in New Jersey instead. It would have been neat if we'd overlapped. We'll just have to compare notes afterward. :-)
Even if, in your community, you don't retake ownership of the chametz you had sold until 9:30 in your community (because of the wording of the sale contract), you should still be perfectly free to purchase new chametz as soon as the chag is over (as long as you buy it from a "kosher" source -- which in this case, means a non-Jew!).

Have you heard differently?

Oh, we know that we could buy new chamtez immediately, but the problem is that our train leaves so close on the heels of the end of Passover that we have no time to stop anywhere! (Besides, the Butcherie will still be closed, and I don't think they would have chametz out on Thursday night even if they did decide to open.)

December 2016

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