Six Steps to Passover

todoPurim is over. It’s time to get ready for Passover! Here’s my to-do list:

1. Figure out where I’ll be for seder. – The Passover seder is an obligation. It’s also the primary Jewish learning experience in which we share a meal, a story, and insights on the story. I need to be at the table first night, and I want to be at the table second night, but I need to decide if I’m hosting a seder or if I will be a guest at someone else’s table or a community table. No matter which, I need to be proactive.

2. Get rid of my chametz! My mantra for chametz (food containing the 5 grains forbidden for Passover) is: Use it up, give it away, throw it out!  If you are new to Judaism, or new to keeping Passover, read my post, Cleaning for Passover: Begin in Egypt. It will explain what chametz is and a gentle way to begin this observance. There is no need to make yourself or your family miserable, nor do you get “Jewish points” for doing so.

3. Clean my house.  The tradition says that I have to get rid of chametz, but if I do a good job of it, then I will clean my house in the process. Passover prep is my yearly reminder to get rid of the things I don’t need, to clean up old messes, and to get my house back in order.

4. Recycle my emergency supplies. I live in California on an earthquake fault, so I have a stash of food, flashlights, and batteries in various safe places around the house. This time of year, I get last year’s canned goods, etc and take them to the Food Bank. Then I go to a discount store and replace them. That way people in need get food and batteries before they go bad, and I renew my supplies. It isn’t part of the halakhah for Passover, but it’s a great time to do it (see #2 above.) This is part of my annual tzedakah budget.

5. Locate my Passover dishes and recipes. Not every Jew keeps double sets of everything. I have a couple of boxes of Passover-only things, and I supplant the rest with (compostable) paper plates and such. I learned the hard way one year not to leave this till the last moment, because maybe I remember exactly where it all is, and maybe I only imagine I know.

6. Buy Passover supplies. For some ritually observant Jews, this means a huge expensive trip to the kosher grocery. I don’t keep kosher, but I do keep Passover, and that means I’ll need matzo and other products that substitute for all the stuff I cleaned out. Don’t wait till the last moment to get your matzo! Some years it can be hard to find in the last week.

It’s a lot of work, especially on top of my regular work! Time to get cracking: the next time the moon is full, it will be Passover!

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

5 thoughts on “Six Steps to Passover”

  1. I have to share this, before I’ve even read the post! The title….right away, “Three Steps to Heaven” popped into my head, and is now earworming me. And making me smile, which is a good thing, as it’s been a difficult week. Now, to read! Thank you, Rabbi Ruth…and please pardon the levity… disrespect intended. Quite the opposite.

  2. Oy Rabbi…you really made me laugh with #2. You said, There is no need to make yourself or your family miserable, nor do you get “Jewish points” for doing so.” Growing up in an orthodox home, I remember well the days my dear mother, she should rest in peace, started this annual project. Our whole household was in an uproar, and not to be critical, but we were all miserable! The famous, “One day you’ll appreciate me for this,” comment was the constant Jewish mother phrase heard throughout the entire process.

    Though I no longer observe in the same orthodox manner as I did under my parents roof, I still only eat matzo and refrain from other chametz. Like you, tzedakah, is still a part of my Passover regimen.

    Happy Passover everyone!

    1. Sheila, the reason I said that about “Jewish points” is precisely the story you told: so many people hear that it’s all or nothing and a miserable project. Certainly, if it is meaningful, if it is an expression of peoplehood or love, the whole megillah (so to speak) is a beautiful thing. However, sometimes it did as much damage as good. I want to let people know that like you have done, it is possible to be a good Jew and make it your own without meeting some impossible standard.
      Thanks for speaking up. In your observance you honor the memory of your parents.

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