Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You cleaned your what?...Why?

In a continuing effort to amaze my non-Jewish readers, I am going to discuss the most stressful event of the Jewish Year, Passover. Why is this holiday so stressful? you would think Yom Kippur would be the stressful one, not eating or drinking, 5 prayer services in 24 hours, your last chance to get in good with the higher power for the year...but no. It's the cleaning for Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) that nearly does in every Jewish woman, and many Jewish men, every year.
Let me explain what has to be done. Everything you own must be gone through, cleaned and/or gotten rid of if it contains Chametz (any of the 5 grains or their derivatives, like grain alchohol, citric acid, etc.). Pasta, unopened bags of flour, most medicines, and a whole host of other things must be used up or thrown out or possibly ritually "sold" to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday. All your dishes, utensils, pots, pans, and appliances must be cleaned thouroughly and put away in sealed cupboards. every surface in your entire home must be wiped down with caustic cleanser (bleach works well) including under the beds, Under the Washer and dryer, under the refrigerator and stove, on top of the fridge, etc. All books taken from bookshelves and shelves wiped down (I found 6 cheerios and a ton of crumbs on our bookshelves this year). Strollers cleaned out, high chair completely cleaned, the list goes on and on. after everything you own is perfectly clean, you go into your kitchen and really get down to work. All counter tops have boiling water poured over them, all cabinets are wiped out, your sink gets really boiled and bleached, your stove and oven treated by torch to burn away any remaining chametz after cleaning them. If you can, you torch your pots to make them perfectly clean of chametz, although many people just have a Passover set of dishes, utensils, and pots. then you cover everything in heavy-duty foil (heaver than anything I've ever seen in a regular grocery store, like tin-pan heavy) until it feels like you're cooking in a space ship. Buy new dish drainers, sponges, and other kitchen accoutrements (if it's touched hot food during the year, it must be replaced for Passover) then you're ready to start cooking for Passover, which is it's own challenge. But that's another post...
Just so you can see, here is what a passover kitchen might look like (not my kitchen, but a good example)