Friday, April 8, 2011

Kosher for pesah?

Everything you ever wanted to know about keeping kosher for Pesah

The Torah prohibits the ownership of חמץ (leaven) during the festival of Pesah. Because of this restriction, Pesah is the Jewish
festival that requires the most preparation. This Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide provides a brief outline of the policies and
procedures relevant to preparing a home for Pesah.
With significant changes in the nature and manufacture of kitchen products and foodstuffs, new policies are required to
maintain a kosher-for-Pesah kitchen. As well, there are many significant differences of opinion among rabbis regarding the laws
of Pesah. This guide is intended to help families maintain a Pesahdik home in accor home in accordance with the principles of Conservative dance with the principles of Conservative
Judaism and its understanding of Jewish Law.
It is customary (and easiest) to remove the utensils and dishes that are used during the year, replacing them with either new
utensils or utensils reserved for exclusive use on Pesah. This is clearly not feasible for major kitchen appliances and may not
even be possible for dishes and utensils. There is a process for kashering a variety of utensils and appliances.
The general principle used in kashering is that the way the utensil absorbs food is the way it can be purged of that food
(פולטו כך כבולעו - ke-volo kach pol-to). This principle operates on the basis of the quality or intensity of how the particular item
absorbs food. Kitchen items used for cold food can be kashered by rinsing, since no substance has been absorbed by the dish
or glass. Items used on a stove absorb the food and thus need a stronger level of action, namely expelling the food into boiling
water through a process called הגעלה (hag'alah). The most intense form of kashering applies to items used directly on a fire or
in an oven and these utensils require a process of kashering called ליבון (libbun), which burns away absorbed food

Specific items are covered below.
a. To kasher metal pots, silverware, and utensils, thoroughly clean the item with soap and water. Then, following a strict
24-hour waiting period during which the item is not used, immerse the item in water that has been heated to a rolling
boil (הגעלה - hag'alah). For pots and pans, clean handles thoroughly. If the handle can be removed, one must remove
it for a more thorough cleaning. To effect הגעלה (hag'alah), the item must be completely exposed to the boiling water.
Pots and pans are either immersed in a larger pot of boiling water (for large items, this may be done one section at a
time), or filled with water brought to a rolling boil, after which a heated stone is dropped into the pot, causing the
water to overflow to cover the sides of the pot. In the case of silverware, every part of each piece must be exposed to
the boiling water. Following this הגעלה (hag'alah) process, each utensil is rinsed in cold water.
b. Heavy-duty plastic items, including dishes, cutlery or serving pieces, provided they can withstand very hot water and
do not permanently stain, may be kashered by הגעלה (hag'alah). If there is some doubt as to whether a particular item
can be kashered, consult your rabbi or religious authority.
c. Purely metal utensils used in fire must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and then must be subjected to direct
fire ליבון (libbun). To accomplish this, place the item in a self-cleaning oven and run it through the self-cleaning cycle,
or use a blowtorch. The use of a blowtorch is a complicated and potentially dangerous procedure and may result in
discoloration or warping of the metal item being purged. Exercise caution when performing ליבון (libbun). Metal
baking pans and sheets cannot be kashered because they require direct fire, which will cause warping.
d. Earthenware (china, pottery, etc.) cannot be kashered. However, fine chinaware that was stored and not used for ove
a year may be used after thorough washing. This china is considered pareve and may be designated for meat or dair and may be designated for meat or dairy y
e. Ovens and ranges: Every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly cleaned. This includes the walls
and the top and bottom of the oven. The oven or range should then be heated at its highest possible temperature. The
oven should be heated at maximum heat for an hour; the range top should be heated until the elements turn red and
glow. Parts of the range top around the elements that can be covered should be covered (usually with aluminum foil),
and carefully heated. After a general and careful cleaning, a self-cleaning oven is put through the full cleaning cycle
while empty. Following this process, the oven should be cleaned again to remove any ash. If the oven was very dirty
to begin with, two cycles may be needed to assure a thorough cleaning.
f. Smooth glass-top electric ranges require kashering by ליבון (libbun) and עירוי (iruy) (pouring boiling water o ) (pouring boiling water over the ver the
surface of the range top). First, clean the top of the range thoroughly; then turn the coils on maximum heat until they
are red-hot. Then carefully pour boiling water on the surface area, over and around the burners. The range top may
now be used for cooking.
g. Microwave ovens that have

Microwave ovens that have no convection option should be thoroughly cleaned. Then place an eight-ounce cup of
water inside the oven and microwave until the water almost disappears. (At least 6 of the 8 ounces need to evaporate.)
Do not heat until the water is completely evaporated, as this may damage the oven. A microwave oven that has a
browning element cannot be kashered.
h. Convection ovens are kashered like regular ovens. When cleaning, be sure to thoroughly clean around the fan.
i. Glass dishes used for eating and serving hot food are to be treated like any dish used for eating and serving hot food.
These dishes may be kashered by cleaning and then immersing in boiling water הגעלה (hag'alah). Glass cookware is
kashered in the same method used for a metal pot (see paragraph "a" above). The issues regarding glass bakeware are
complex. Some authorities allow glass bakeware to be kashered, while others do not. Drinking glasses or glass dishes
used only for cold foods may be kashered by a simple rinsing. Some follow the custom of soaking them in water for
three days.
j. A dishwasher needs to be cleaned as thoroughly as possible, including the inside area around the drainage and
filters. Then run a full cycle with detergent (with racks inserted), while empty. After 24 hours of not being used, the
dishwasher is again run empty (with racks inserted), and set on the highest heat for the purpose of kashering. If the
sides of the dishwasher are made of enamel or porcelain, the dishwasher cannot be kashered for Pesah.
k. Other electrical appliances can be kashered if the parts that come in contact with חמץ (hametz) are metal and are
removable, in which case they may be kashered like all other metal cooking utensils. If the parts are not removable,
the appliances cannot be kashered. We recommend the purchase of small appliances designated for strictly Pesah use,
thus avoiding the difficulty of kashering these appliances.
l. Tables, cabinets, and counters should be thoroughly cleaned and covered for Pesah. Suitable coverings include: contact
paper, regular paper, foil, or cloth that does not contain חמץ (hametz) (e.g. treated with star ) (e.g. treated with starch made of ch made of חמץ - hametz).
Note that the covering material should be made of material that is not easily torn.
m. Many countertop surfaces can be kashered simply by a thorough cleaning, a 24-hour wait, and עירוי (iruy) (pouring
boiling water over surfaces). For עירוי (iruy) to be effective for kashering, the sur ) to be effective for kashering, the surface must have no hairline cracks, face must have no hairline cracks,
nicks or scratches that can be seen with the naked eye. Plastic laminates, limestone, soapstone, granite, marble, glass,
Corian, Staron, Ceasarstone, Swanstone, Surell, and Avonite surfaces can be kashered by עירוי (iruy). A wood sur ). A wood surface face
that does not contain scratches may be kashered by עירוי (iruy). Ceramic, cement, or por ). Ceramic, cement, or porcelain countertops cannot be celain countertops cannot be
kashered by עירוי (iruy). The potential effectiv ). The potential effectiveness of eness of עירוי (iruy) depends on the material of which the counter was
made. A full list of counter materials that can be kashered (according to their decisors) may be found on the website
of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC).
n. A metal kitchen sink can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing the sink (especially the garbage catch),
letting it sit for 24 hours, and then carefully pouring boiling water over all the surfaces of the sink, including the lip.
A porcelain sink cannot be kashered, but should be thoroughly cleaned and used with Pesah dish basins and dish
drains, one each for dairy and for meat.
o. Non-Passover dishes, pots, utensils, and חמץ (hametz) foods that have been sold (see belo ) foods that have been sold (see below) should be separated, w) should be separated,
covered, or locked away to prevent accidental use
The Torah prohibits the ownership of חמץ (hametz) (flour, food or drink made from the pr ) (flour, food or drink made from the prohibited species of leavened grain: ohibited species of leavened grain:
wheat, oats, barley, rye or spelt) during Pesah. Ideally, we burn or remove all חמץ (hametz) from our premises. I ) from our premises. In some cases, n some cases,
however, this would cause prohibitive financial loss. In such cases, we arrange for the sale and subsequent repurchase after
Pesah of the חמץ (hametz) to a non-Jew ) to a non-Jew. The transfer, . The transfer, חמץ מכירת (mekhirat hametz), is accomplished b ), is accomplished by appointing an agent, y appointing an agent,
usually one's rabbi, to handle the sale. This must be considered a valid and legal transfer of ownership and thus the items
sold must be separated and stored away from all other foods and supplies. At the end of the holiday, the agent arranges to
repurchase the items on behalf of the owner, since the חמץ (hametz) at that time is again permitted. (O ) at that time is again permitted. (One must wait until ne must wait until
certain the repurchase has been transacted.) If ownership of the חמץ (hametz) was not transferred befor ) was not transferred before the holiday, the use of e the holiday, the use of
any such חמץ (hametz) remains pr ) remains prohibited after the holiday ( ohibited
after the holiday (הפסח עליו שעבר חמץ - hametz she-avar alav ha-Pesah) and any such
products should be given away to a non-Jewish food pantry.
Since the Torah prohibits the eating of חמץ (hametz) during P ) during Pesah, and since many common foods contain some esah, and since many common foods contain some חמץ (hametz),
guidance is necessary when shopping and preparing for Pesah.
An item that is kosher all year round, that is made with no חמץ (hametz), and is pr ), and is processed on machines used only for that ocessed on machines used only for that
item and nothing else (such as ground coffee) may be used with no special Pesah supervision. As we learn more about the
processing of foods and the ingredients they contain, relying on the kashrut of a product for Pesah that does not hold a Pesah
הכשר (hekhsher hekhsher - stamp of approval) may be problematic. Wher - stamp of approval) may be problematic. Wherever possible, processed foods ought to have a " ever possible, processed foods ought to have a "לפסח כשר"
("kosher l'Pesah") הכשר (hekhsher (hekhsher) from a reliable source. Since that is not always possible, ho ) from a reliable source. Since that is not always possible, however, our guidelines reflect some wever, our guidelines reflect some
acceptable alternatives.
Any food that requires a "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") הכשר (hekhsher) must hav ) must have a label that is integral to the package and e a label that is integral to the package and
should display the name of a recognizable, living supervising rabbi or creditable kosher supervision agency, if possible. If the
label is not integral to the package or if there are questions regarding the label, the item should not be used without consulting
a rabbi or religious authority.

Prohibited foods (חמץ (hametz hametz)) include the following: leavened br )) include the following: leavened bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, or coffees containing cereal ead, cakes, biscuits, crackers, or coffees containing cereal
derivatives (i.e. anything made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye). Any food containing these grains or derivatives of these
grains (the five prohibited species for Pesah) is forbidden. Flavorings in foodstuffs are often derived from alcohol produced
from one of these grains, rendering that food חמץ (hametz). Such products requir ). Such products require Pesah supervision. e Pesah supervision.
Ashkenazic rabbinical authorities have added the following foods קטניות (kitniyot) to the above list of pr ) to the above list of prohibited foods: rice, ohibited foods: rice,
corn, soy, millet, beans, and peas. These and other plant foods (e.g. mustard, buckwheat, fennel, fenugreek, and sesame
seeds) are not permitted on Pesah. Although many rabbinic authorities have prohibited the use of peanuts and peanut oil,
the Conservative movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has permitted their use and consumption on Pesah,
provided that these items have proper kosher certification and do not contain any חמץ (hametz) ingredients. M ) ingredients. Most Sephardic ost Sephardic
authorities permit the use of all the קטניות (kitniyot kitniyot) foods other than those that might hav ) foods other than those that might have come in contact with the prohibited e come in contact with the prohibited
grains. Most Ashkenazic rabbinical authorities also forbid processed products derived from קטניות (kitniyot), whether liquid
or solid. These might include, but are not limited to: corn sweetener, corn oil, soy oil, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Israeli
products are often marked "contains קטניות (kitniyot)" and thus Ashkenazic J )" and thus Ashkenazic Jews who do not use ews who do not use קטניות (kitniyot) need to be
vigilant when purchasing Israeli products for Pesah.

a. The following foods require no "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") label when purchased before or during Pesah: fresh fruits and
vegetables; eggs; fresh fish (whole or gutted); fresh or frozen kosher meat other than chopped meat; whole (unground)
spices and nuts, including whole or half pecans (not pieces); pure black, green, or white tea leaves or teabags; Nestea
regular and decaffeinated unflavored tea; coffee (unflavored regular); baking soda and bicarbonate of soda.
b. The following items may be purchased before Pesah without a Pesah הכשר (hekhsher) but if bought during P ) but if bought during Pesah require a esah require a
הכשר (hekhsher hekhsher): white milk, Tropicana 100% orange juice, filleted fish, fr ): white milk, Tropicana 100% orange juice, filleted fish, frozen fruit (with no additives), pure white sugar ozen fruit (with no additives), pure white sugar

(with no additives), olive oil (extra virgin only), non-iodized salt, quinoa (with no additional ingredients).
c. The following products require reliable "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") certification (regular kosher supervision is not
sufficient), whether purchased before or during Pesah: all baked goods (matzah, Pesah cakes, matzah flour, farfel,
matzah meal, and any other products containing matzah), 100% fruit juices, herbal teas, canned tuna, wine, vinegar,
liquor, decaffeinated coffee and tea, dried fruits, oils, frozen uncooked vegetables and all frozen processed foods, candy,
chocolate-flavored milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheeses, butter, and soda. (For Sephardic Jews, the presence of קטניות-kitniyot
in some of these products does not present a problem, as long as there is no חמץ-hametz.) In some cases an onsite inspection of a local dairy performed by the דאתרא מרא-mara d'atra (religious authority) may suffice to r (religious authority) may suffice to resolve esolve
potential questions. Any processed food bought during Pesah must have a "לפסח כשר" ("kosher l'Pesah") certification.
d. Any detergents, cleaners, etc. which are not a foodstuff and which are not eaten, may be used for Pesah and do not
require a הכשר (hekhsher hekhsher). These items include: isopropyl alcohol, aluminum pr ). These items include: isopropyl alcohol, aluminum products, ammonia, coffee filters, baby oil, oducts, ammonia, coffee filters, baby oil,
powder and ointment, bleach, charcoal, candles, contact paper, plastic cutlery, laundry and dish detergent, fabric softener,
oven cleaner, paper bags, plates, wax paper, plastic wrap, polish, sanitizers, scouring pads, stain remover, and bottled water
with no additives.
e. Medicines: Prescription medicines are permitted. Non-prescription pills and capsules are permitted; for liquids, check
with your rabbi or religious authority

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