THE KOSHER NEXUS

A Publication of the Union For Traditional Judaism

Copyright © 2003 The Union for Traditional Judaism

Vol 10 No 3, 2003 Pesah Edition

From the Editor

Shalom and welcome to the newly expanded Passover issue of the Kosher Nexus. In this special edition, you will find a wealth of information for Passover. We all hope that this issue will help you with everything from preparing your home to purchasing Kosher L'Pesah products. If you have any questions regarding Passover, or kashrut in general, please refer to the box on page 2 on how to contact the Kosher Nexus. From all of us, and the Union for Traditional Judaism, we wish you a festive and meaningful Pesah.

Preparing Your Home for Pesah

Pesah begins on Wednesday night, April 16, this year. The search for leaven (bedikat hametz) will take place on the night before Yom Tov-Tuesday, April 15, after dark. At that time, all of the usual blessings and formulas would be recited. The bitul (nullification) that is recited is generally only for that hametz that we don't know about. It is very important that we understand the words of the nullification formula. Therefore, for those who don't understand the Aramaic or Hebrew, it is fitting to repeat the words in English.

The final bitul is done the next morning (Wednesday, April 16) early in the day. At that time, all hametz must be gone from the home. We recite the bitul, and we burn the hametz that we bagged the night before. Please check with your rabbi for the latest time you can eat hametz on Erev Pesah.

The Fast of the Firstborn takes place on Wednesday, as well. Most synagogues will offer a siyyum (conclusion to a tractate of Talmud) at the end of the morning minyan. Attendance at a siyyum obviates the need to fast.

All preparations of the house and foods must be done well before Yom Tov. In order to prepare for Pesah, each room of the house must be carefully cleaned. The Kosher Nexus recommends a number of tips and suggestions:

  1. Check sofa and chair cushions and vacuum carefully.

  2. Clean out toy boxes.

  3. Pocketbooks, pant cuffs, coat pockets and jeans pockets (especially those of little boys) should be carefully searched.

  4. Be especially careful during the cleaning of your den/TV room; you will be amazed at the places that hametz can be hiding.

The Kitchen-Ready, Set, Scrub!

The kitchen will require your most serious attention. If you follow our guide, you should find the process much easier. (It won't make you happier, but it will make the work easier!!)

The Refrigerator: Empty the refrigerator. Clean the interior thoroughly using a new (and, therefore, Pesahdik) sponge. Remove all the racks, bins, and shelves to facilitate cleaning. There are two halakhic stances concerning the interior of the refrigerator: Sefardim generally do not require lining/covering the shelves, etc. The Ashkenazic custom today is to cover the plastic racks and bins. Restock the refrigerator with only kosher for Passover foods.

Toaster Ovens: It really is not a good idea to use one of these during Pesah, but if you must, do the following: Empty out the toaster oven very carefully. Even better, use the reverse blower of your vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer to blow out the interior of the unit. Wash the tray and interior carefully. Cover the tray for the duration of the holiday. Run the unit on full heat for one hour. Of course, your best bet, if it is financially possible, is to purchase a new toaster oven to use specifically for Pesah.

Blenders and Mixers: If you can afford it, it is best to buy separate units for Pesah. Any parts that are plastic or rubber cannot be made kosher for Pesah, according to Ashkenazic minhag (custom). Therefore, after thoroughly cleaning the motor part, and kashering the metal blades, put away all the rest of the unit and get new parts for Pesah. (Stand-up mixers are much too difficult to kasher for Pesah, especially if used to make challah throughout the year. No matter how hard we tried, no matter how much we cleaned the mixer, there were still traces of hametz. We solved this problem by purchasing an inexpensive mixer to use just for Pesah.)

Dishwashers: Sefardim require that the unit be run through a full cycle. The Ashkenazic custom is to clean the interior with a brush and then run two full cycles with soap. Many Ashkenazic authorities also require that new racks be purchased for Pesah. The Kosher Nexus recommends donning a pair of rubber gloves and washing those dishes by hand, or better yet, having those teenagers help out. (It will keep them busy for a few hours and, therefore, out of your hair!)

Counters and Tabletops: Sefardim clean and purge with boiling water. They do not require the covering of tables or the counters. Although the Mishneh Brurah is clear that we don't have to cover countertops, common Ashkenazic practice is to clean and cover them all anyway. Most hardware and/or decorating stores sell clear plastic. This can be cut to size and makes a nice counter cover. For ease of use, though, nothing beats Rubbermaid shelf paper-its self-stick back is perfect, and it comes away easily at the end of Yom Tov.

Sinks: Sefardim require a complete cleaning followed by purging with boiling water. The Ashkenazic custom is to kasher only metal sinks. All other sinks must be cleaned, purged with boiling water, and lined or covered. A plastic dish tub with a few holes poked in the bottom, which sits on a sink rack, works great.

Microwave Oven: (This does not include convection ovens, which must be made kosher for Pesah the same way as a conventional oven.) Clean the inside of the microwave thoroughly. Put a bowl of water in the oven. Turn the power up to full and boil the water for a few minutes until the entire interior is wet with steam. Glass trays should be cleaned thoroughly and put back into the oven before kashering. Trays made of plastic or metal should be replaced for Pesah; if this is impossible, they should be cleaned, kashered and covered.

Drawers and Cabinets: These must be cleaned and lined. Those that will not be used during Pesah need not be lined. The Kosher Nexus recommends that any cabinets and drawers that will not be used be sealed with a bit of tape (or better still-put a "closed for Yom Tov" sign on it [another good project to keep the kids busy]) to avoid any accidental use of items that remain inside.

Self-Cleaning Ovens: Run the self-clean cycle. Voila! One kosher for Pesah oven. (And if that isn't the best reason to own one...!) You may also be able to put racks and stove-top trivets in the oven during the cleaning cycle, but please check your owner's manual first, as temperatures reach approximately 700 degrees during the cleaning cycle.

Note: The above pertains to self-cleaning ovens only, NOT continuous-cleaning ovens.

Ovens: Plain and simple, take the oven apart as much as possible. Remove any part that is removable, and scrub, scrub, and scrub some more. Basically, clean it until it won't come any cleaner! Use a lot of oven cleaner, but if you have a continuous-clean oven, check your owner's manual before applying an oven cleaner. Some oven cleaners will destroy the finish on continuous-clean ovens. After a complete cleaning, put it all back together and turn on the oven full blast for one full hour. When cool, cover your racks with aluminum rack covers, found inexpensively at the supermarket, or use new racks for Pesah. Your broiler pan cannot be kashered for Pesah unless you use a blowtorch! It requires libun (see below) because it is used with a direct flame.

Gas and Electric Ranges: These cooktops must be cleaned as thoroughly as possible. Remove all parts that you can and scrub. Remove the trivets from the range top, and after a good cleaning, cover them with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Lift up the range top-it is amazing all the hametz that you will find here. Clean it all out! For electric ranges, the coils are self-kashering. Just let them get red, and they are ready to go. For gas ranges, put your cooktop back together and turn on the burners for one full hour. When everything has cooled down, line the inside of your range with aluminum foil, and do the same for the range top. You have now completed kashering your stove for Pesah. Please keep in mind that the "blech" we use all year round cannot be made kosher for Pesah. A new one must be purchased.

Bread Drawers: Ashkenazic custom is to clean the bread drawer and close it for Pesah.

Kashering-The do's and don'ts

What are the kashering methods used for Pesah? There are four possible ways to kasher for Pesah: (1) Hagalah-immersion in boiling water; (2) Libun-purification by flame by turning the metal white-hot (such as with a blowtorch, used to clean items like broilers and barbecues); (3) Irui-pouring boiling water over the surface; and (4) Milui v'irui-soaking in cold water.

How do we kasher utensils for Pesah? In general, the rule we follow is simple: Each utensil is kashered according to its use. Halakhically, we say, "as the utensil has absorbed, so will it emit what it has absorbed." Many items can be made kosher for Pesah by hagalah (the total immersion of an item into a larger pot of boiling water for a few seconds).

How do we do hagalah? First take a Pesah pot and fill it with water. Bring the pot to a boil.

You are now ready to kasher (by dunking into the boiling water) each item that requires hagalah. You may do only one item at a time. The Kosher Nexus recommends heavy-duty rubber gloves (the kind for handling chemicals), so that you do not get burned. Another great idea for dunking is to purchase a nylon net bag, and put your items into the bag, and then dunk the bag.

Each item to be boiled must be clean and must not have been used for the preceding 24 hours. If you do not have a Pesah pot big enough to use for hagalah, use a hametz pot. Bring the pot to a boil, spill it over as above, and you are ready to dunk.

What can be kashered this way? In general, items made of metal, glass, and stone may be kashered this way. However, the Kosher Nexus recommends that you be very careful with glassware, as the boiling water may cause breakage. There is an alternate way to kasher glassware for Pesah.

How to kasher glassware: Again, there are differing opinions on this. The Sefardim say that one only has to thoroughly wash the glass item. The Askenazic view is that glass needs to be kashered for Pesah use. To kasher glassware, you must first make sure that the items are glass, and not Pyrex. Only pure glass that has been washed and allowed to stand for 24 hours may be kashered.

Glassware requires a three-day dunk! Yep, count 'em, three days. The Kosher Nexus suggests using an "extra" bathtub or a very large wash basin. Put all glassware into the tub, and then fill with cold water. Completely empty the tub after 24 hours, and refill. Then empty it again, after another 24 hours have passed, and refill it. Finally, after the third 24-hour period has passed, you may remove your glassware. They are now Kosher for Pesah. (This method can also be used whenever you need to kasher your glassware that may have become treife for some reason, or if you are just becoming kosher.)

ITEMS YOU CANNOT KASHER FOR Pesah

There are a number of items that cannot be made kosher for Pesah. They include the following:

Kosher L'Pesah Foods

Purchasing kosher for Pesah foods takes some thought and planning. Many products that you use every day cannot be used for Pesah. Most items require special certification for Pesah. The list below will help you in determining which products do and do not need special Pesah certification.

The following are some items that do NOT require special certification for Pesah:



The following are examples of products that REQUIRE certification for Pesah use:

See the FAQ section for additional information.

Miscellaneous Items

Questions from Operation Pesah

Every year, the number of questions we receive at the Operation Pesah Hotline continues to grow and grow. We are most pleased to note this increase, as it points to a heightened level of awareness and observance of the holiday. Included in this special edition of the Kosher Nexus is a fairly complete representation of all the questions we have received. We hope that this guide will add to your observance of Pesah, and that it will make your life easier as you prepare for the holiday. Chag Kasher V'sameah to everyone!

HOW, WHAT, WHY

What is gebrukts? Gebrukts refers to mixtures of matzah (in any form) and water (or any other liquid). Some people observe the custom of not eating gebrukts on Pesah, because they believe that when the matzah and liquid mix, the matzah may rise, making it not kosher for Pesah. Not all Jews accept this minhag. Of those who do, some refrain from eating gebrukts all of Pesah; others will eat it on the last day of the holiday. Of course, there are those of us who eat gebrukts all of Pesah, too!

Does the mikvah make dishes kosher for Passover? No, it does not.

Can Lucite be made kosher for Passover? There are two opinions: one says yes, the other says no. We are of the opinion that because Lucite is hard plastic, it can be made kosher for Pesah by immersion in boiling water.

Where can I buy a Haggadah? There are any number of places where you can buy Haggadot. Shuls sell them in their gift shops. Often, supermarkets give them away. Kosher butchers often give them away. Of course, your local Judaica shop, if you have one, would have the best selection. You can call Hecht's Hebrew Book Store at 718-258-9696 and order Haggadot over the phone. Last of all, if nothing else pans out, call General Foods and ask them to mail you some of their famous Maxwell House Haggadot.

How do I kasher my dentures for Passover? Just clean them well. Some people pour boiling water over the dentures-but put them in the sink or in a cup first!

Can I kasher my year 'round blech? You can not make your year 'round blech kosher for Pesah. You must buy a new one.

How do I kasher glassware? There are two ways. One way is to immerse it in boiling water. The other is to do the "three-day dunk." See page 3 for details.

How do I kasher silverware? After not using the silverware for at least 24 hours, immerse it in boiling water. You might want to use a nylon stocking bag to make it easier. Heavy-duty rubber gloves are helpful, too. When kashering more than one piece of silverware, make sure the pieces don't "nest" into each other; the water must touch all parts of the silverware.

How do I kasher a can opener? First, clean it well. Don't use it for 24 hours. Immerse it in boiling water.

How do I kasher stemware? Forget about boiling it-it is much too dangerous. Do the three-day dunk (see above).

How do I kasher Corningware? First of all, note that Corning Bakeware may NOT be kashered for Pesah. In general, the rule regarding Corningware is: If it has been used for heating/cooking foods, then it has to be kashered in heat over 750 degrees. If it has not been used to heat/cook foods, it can be kashered by either the three-day dunk or by boiling.

How do I kasher a microwave oven? See page 2 for info on how to kasher your microwave.

How do I kasher my oven? See page 2 for details on kashering standard, self-cleaning and continuous-cleaning ovens.

How do I kasher a glass-top range? If it is Corning, Halogen, Radiant, or Ceran: turn on the heat until the top is hot enough to do "libun kal,"-i.e., it is hot enough to ignite a piece of tissue placed on it when the unit is turned off. Another way to do this is to use a blowtorch to heat the glass top to over 550 degrees. We do NOT recommend this, as you will probably crack the stove top this way.

How do I kasher a granite countertop? The same way as you kasher any other countertop (see page 2).

How do I kasher the stove-top trivets? Clean them very carefully. Put them back on the stove top and turn on the gas or the electricity full out for ten minutes.

How do I kasher the dishwasher? See page 2 for info on this.

SEDER QUESTIONS

What is the brachah on matzah? At the seder there are two blessings: regular Hamotzi and then "...Asher... v'tzivanu al achilat matzah." During all other meals, the regular motzi is said.

I will be away for Pesah; when do I do bedikat hametz? Just before you leave home.

Can I use horseradish for maror? Yes. The Mishna says to use romaine lettuce, but the Gemara says that we can use raw horseradish. The problem arises in trying to eat a kezayit (olive's mass) of horseradish; because of its strong taste, you might eat less than a kezayit. Therefore, we recommend the lettuce.

VEGETARIAN QUESTIONS

What can I use instead of an egg? Many vegetarians use an avocado seed.

What can I use instead of a bone? Many vegetarians use a beet.

Where can I find good vegetarian recipes for Pesah? You might want to try the ZERO CHOLESTEROL PASSOVER RECIPE BOOK. It is pretty much the best work out there. Written by vegetarians for vegetarians, it is, nonetheless, a great cook book for everyone.

Is there a resource for vegetarians? Indeed there is. The best collection of kosher for Passover recipes (including veggie) can be found at http://kosher4passover.com/recipes.htm .

MEDICINES

For the most up-to-date list of meds for Passover, contact Rabbi Bess in California. He is at 213-933-5031. He is THE authority on kosher for Passover medications. His list is the one that everyone else copies. The bottom line regarding medicines is that our custom is not to use pills containing hametz unless there is no acceptable alternative.

Many people believe that if it is a pill that is swallowed, not chewed, it need not be kosher for Passover. We concur. We do note, though, that all insulins and all heart medications (as of now) are kosher for Passover. If you are taking a medication that contains hametz, you should ask your doctor about an acceptable alternative. Please note that elixirs are always chametz and are NOT acceptable on Passover.



COSMETICS

As this is a generalized listing, it is not possible for us to list cosmetics here.

CLEANERS

Are ScotchBrite pads kosher for Passover? They were in 2002; we see no reason why they shouldn't be in future years, too.

Is Comet kosher for Passover? It was in 2002; we see no reason why it shouldn't be in the future, too.

What is the status of OU-certified liquid cleansers? They are all kosher for Passover. Note, however, that cleansers, because they are not edible and are caustic, do not require certification at all.

PETS: DOGS, CATS, ETC.

There is only one area of concern that prompts more questions than those about medicines and cosmetics, and that is: What do I feed my pet during Pesah? The prohibition against having hametz is a total prohibition. We can't even have it to feed our pets. It is forbidden for us to have hametz in our possession during the holiday. Although we can not feed our pets hametz during Pesah, there is no prohibition against feeding them treife. We can't eat treife, but our pets may! So, for example, you could give your cat shrimp during Pesah, but not cereal-based foods. In addition, we are not allowed to derive any benefit from any mixtures of cooked meat and dairy, so we need to be sure that the food we give the pet is not forbidden because of mixtures of milk and meat. This, by the way, is true all of the year-not just during Pesah. Therefore, the foods we feed our pets may not contain meat and dairy mixtures nor may they contain hametz. They may, however, contain kitniyot. Every year, the list of acceptable foods changes, so we shall not list them here. Call the Operation Pesah Hotline for a listing of acceptable foods.

If I sell my pet with the hametz, may I feed it hametz? No.

What can I feed my guinea pig? Try these fine foods: sunflower seeds, oranges, apple, carrot, alfalfa, lettuce, Spanky, cabbage, and pears.

In truth, it may just be easier to ask a gentile friend to accept your pet into his or her home for the duration. That would obviate any feeding problems. Many pet shops will board pets for a nominal fee over Pesah, but a problem will still arise if the pet shop feeds hametz to your pet. Therefore, sell the pet with your hametz and then board it at a pet shop.

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD

Can I use an unopened bottle of organic maple syrup? Yes.

May I use peeled baby carrots? Some people say no out of a fear that the anti-oxidants used may be hametz. Obviously, the situation can change from year to year. As of Pesah 2002, there was no problem with peeled carrots.

Does decaffeinated coffee or tea need Passover certification? Yes.

Is quinoa kosher for Passover? Yes.

Does hard (aged) cheese need Passover certification if it is bought before Pesah? Yes.

Does butter need Pesah certification if bought before Pesah? Absolutely! At one time that may not have been the case, but today all bets are off. Butter today often is colored with ingredients that would be unacceptable for Pesah, and those ingredients would not appear on the label.

Is there a kosher for Passover cornstarch? We have never seen one. Of course, Ashkenazim wouldn't use that product at all.

Is mustard seed kosher for Passover? No. Even though it is not kitniyot, the accepted custom of the Jewish community is not to eat mustard seed on Pesah.

Does apple cider vinegar need Passover certification? Yes.

Are there kosher for Passover whiskeys? Not many. There are some kosher for Passover vodkas, bourbons, and liqueurs. Check for hashgacha.

What is the story with extra-virgin olive oil? If it is certified kosher year-round, it doesn't need special Passover certification.

How can I get oat and spelt matzahs? There are kosher for Passover oat and spelt matzahs. We publish the phone numbers at Pesah time. In years past, oat matzahs were available at 908-370-8460.

What is the status of guar gum, carob bean gum, and carrageenan? They need Passover certification.

Can I use canned pineapple without Passover certification? In 2002, there appeared to be no cans of pineapple acceptable without special Pesah certification.

Can I cook hametz before Pesah, freeze it, and use it after Pesah? As long as you included it in your sale of hametz, yes.

Is canola oil kosher for Passover? The Israeli Rabbinate has ruled that canola oil is a kitniyot derivative.

What about safflower oil? It needs P certification.

Does honey need Passover certification? Yes, because the U.S. government now allows processors to add corn syrup to honey without disclosing that fact on the label.

May we eat peanuts on Passover? According to the Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (OBM), we may eat peanuts on Passover. Many, however, have the custom not to.

Does coffee need Passover certification? More and more coffee today needs certification. Each year, however, a small list of acceptable coffees with no special hashgacha for Passover is available. We, too, shall make the list available through the Operation Pesah Hotline.

Does cereal need Passover certification? Absolutely! There are now a number of fairly expensive cereals on the market for Pesah. We recommend that if you eat gebrukts, try putting matzah farfel in a bowl and adding milk and sugar.

Is there an organic wine for Passover? Yes, it is called Kedem Wine.

Is flaxseed kosher for Passover? Yes, in all forms: raw, dry, or bleached.

May all frozen vegetables be used for Passover? No, not at all. It used to be that frozen veggies were quite good for Pesah, but that has ceased to be the case due to the fact that most vegetable processors now cook all manner of hametz in the same retorts in which the vegetables are cooked. (Yes, even frozen veggies are subject to some cooking.) So, frozen vegetables need Pesah certification.

What about sodas? Soda needs Passover hashgacha. One thing you should know is that often the label on the soda will say "corn syrup" even though the cap of the soda says KP. Fear not, there are no kosher for Passover sodas that contain corn syrup. They simply don't change the label for Passover, hence the KP on the cap. The Operation Pesah Hotline will have up-to-date soda lists for you. Please also note that flavored seltzer needs Passover hashgacha. Plain, unflavored seltzer needs no Passover certification.

Is there kosher for Passover rum? We have never seen any.

Do artificial sweeteners need Passover certification? Yes.

Is there a kosher for Passover nondairy creamer? Yes, it is made by Kineret (the frozen challah people).

Does aluminum foil need Passover certification? No.

What about cocoa? Hershey's Pure Cocoa needs no special certification for Passover. Just open a new tin/box.

Is there a kosher for Passover vanilla? Yes, but it must have special Passover certification.

How about popcorn? Ashkenazim would not eat popcorn on Pesah. Sephardim could, but they generally don't. It would need Pesah certification, by the way.

Is there kosher for Passover peanut butter? No. But you could make your own provided you had cleaned and kashered your peanut butter maker.

Are we permitted to eat string beans? According to the Rem"a, yes, we may. Not every rabbi accepts that stance. According to Rabbi Price and Rabbi Rappoport, we may eat string beans, since they are not kitniyot.

Is Metamucial kosher for Passover? The unflavored kind is acceptable.

What spices are kosher for Passover? In general, spices need Passover certification because of the ways in which spices are dried, cured, and produced. In addition, some spices are sprayed with a hametz spray to make them dry better and more quickly. Hence, spices need certification. Some years, there are spices that are acceptable without special Passover certification. When that is the case, we shall make the information available to you.

What is the status of vinegar? Unless it is certified kosher for Passover, it isn't!

May we eat corn? Not if you are an Ashkenazi. Only Sephardim eat corn on Pesah.

Is Wesson oil kosher for Passover? Only with OK Passover certification on the label.

Is there such a thing as kosher for Passover rice cakes? No, not even for Sephardim.

Are jalapenos in a can or jar kosher for Passover? They would need Passover certification.

Is there kosher for Passover brandy? Yes, among others who make it, Kedem makes some. Brandy must have Passover certification.

Does apple sauce need Passover certification Yes.

Is there kosher for Passover soy sauce? No, not even for Sephardim.

May we eat sweet potatoes on Passover? Canned ones would need Pesah certification. Fresh ones would be fine.

Does waxed paper need Passover certification? No. According to many authorities, it does, however, need kosher certification-just not Passover certification.

What about nuts? Nuts must be raw, not colored, with no additives and no BHA. If they are processed in any way, however, they need Pesah certification.

Do cottage cheese and cheeses in general need Passover certification? Yes. There are those who believe that buying regularly kosher cheese before Pesah is acceptable for use during Pesah, but that is no longer the case. Cheeses today can have all manner of additives that would render them unacceptable for use on Pesah. Careful consumers should only buy kosher for Passover cheeses-hard and soft!

Is there low-fat kosher for Passover cheese? Yes, there are a number of them.

Does the UTJ have any good recipes for Passover? Not officially, but we can point you in the correct direction. Try this web site: http://kosher4passover.com/recipes.htm .

THE FINAL WORD

Here at the UTJ, we are always available to answer your Kashruth questions- at Pesah time and all year round, too. Our phone number during the year is 201-801-0707. During the Operation Pesah Hotline, our toll-free number is in service and is 1-888-MATZAH 1. Please note that the toll-free number is available only during Operation Pesah.

We hope that this abstract from the Hotline has proved helpful to you. Best wishes for a kosher and happy Pesah.