Passover – A message from our Rabbi

Dear Friend,

We are all looking forward to celebrate Pessach. In this email I will give you some practical information regarding the celebration and observance of Pessach.

Pessach is a week-long celebration.

Those who follow the liberal (biblical) practice, celebrate Pessach 7 days from the evening of 27 March 2021 until the evening of 3 April 2021.

The orthodox practice in Diaspora is to celebrate 8 days of Pessach (evening 27 March – evening 4 April 2021). 

Saturday, 27 March, 10:30
Deadline for Eating Chametz

Saturday, 27 March, 11:30
Deadline for Removal of Chametz
After removing chametz, recite:
We have cleaned our home and removed all the chametz of which we are aware. Just as we have removed the leaven from our home, so too may we be purified from harmful thoughts and selfish deeds. 

Saturday, 27 March, 19:00-21:30 (zoom)
Seder Pessach
There will be a pause for dinner between 20:00 and 21:00.
Online English Haggadah: Our Haggadah – Haggadatenu
Deutsche Haggada: diese oder diese
French Haddadah (PDF)
Ma Nishtana (The Four Questions) in 5 Languages (HE, LU, EN, FR, DE)

Sunday, 28 March, 10:30-12:30 (zoom)
Pessach Celebration for Families and Talmud Torah

Sunday, 28 March, 21:00 (zoom)
End of the 1st Day of Pessach (Yom Tov ends)
Havdalah (Text here)

Do not forget counting Omer from the second night of Pessach, starting on Sunday, 28 March. There are many useful apps to remind you about the daily mitzvah of counting Omer and the spiritual practice accompanying it. Check this CCAR Omer App or Sefiros Grow App.

Monday, 29 March – Friday, 2 April, 10:00-10:40 (zoom)
Morning Prayer – Chol Hamoed Pessach (Intermediate Days of Pessach)

Friday, 2 April, 19:00-20:30 (zoom)
Evening Service of Shabbat & the Last (7th) Day of Pessach

Saturday, 3 April, 10:30-12:00 (zoom & synagogue)
Morning Service of Shabbat & the Last (7th) Day of Pessach
N.B.: If you would like to attend the service in the synagogue, please, register using this online form. Pandemic restrictions do apply (wearing masks, physical distance, no singing).

Saturday, 3 April, 21:00 (zoom)
End of the 7th and Last Day of Pessach (Yom Tov ends)
Havdalah (Text here)

If you observe 7 days of Pessach, you may start eating chametz on 3 April at 21:00.

The Torah prohibits the ownership of חמץ (chametz) (flour, food or drink made from the prohibited species of leavened grain: wheat, oats, barley, rye or spelt) during Pessach. Ideally we burn or remove all chametz from our premises (you may store it in a room you do not use during the Pessach week).
Prohibited foods (chametz) include the following: biscuits, cakes, coffees containing cereal derivatives, crackers, leavened bread, pasta. These are foods that are generally made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye (grains that can become chametz). Any food containing these grains or derivatives of these grains must be certified kosher for Pesach. Flavorings in foodstuffs are often derived from alcohol produced from one of these grains which would render that food chametz. Such products also need Pessach supervision.

Matzah & “Gluten-Free Matzah”
One of the mitzvot of Pessach is to eat matzah at least during the Seder Pessach. Matzah is made of flour of wheat (in most cases), oats, barley, rye or spelt. Those who have gluten intolerance or suffer from gluten-related disorders are exempt from the mitzvah of matzah. Judaism prioritises health over ritual. Those who do not consume gluten out of other reasons, are not exempt from the mitzvah of matzah. The “Gluten-Free Matzah” is usually made of potato starch, tapioca, nuts or other non-cereal product. Strictly speaking such “gluten-free matzah” is a matzah-style product. Since it is not a type of bread (which a regular Matzah is) the blessing for it is not “hamotzi”. Usually the correct blessing is stated on the package. The safest go is “she ha-kol nig-ya bid-va-ro” (Blessed… everything was created through God’s word”).

By the way, for ritual purposes, only regular, plain matzah (made of flour and water) is appropriate. Chocolate matzah, egg matzah, matzah ashirah etc. etc. are not fit for the ritual (its richness contradicts the reason for the matzah eating ritual; matzah is both “bread of poverty” and “bread of liberation”). In general,  “Kosher for Pessach” does not necessarily mean that the food can be used during ritual (e.g., during the Seder Pessach) to fulfill a mitzvah; it can be used as a snack or food in a regular, non-ritual sense.

Traditionally Ashkenazim refrain from eating Kitniyot during Pessach. These foods include: beans, corn, millet, peas, rice, soy, and some other plant based foods like mustard, buckwheat and sesame seeds. Peanuts and peanut oil are permitted, provided they do not contain chametz ingredients. There are strong opinions permitting the consumption of kitniyot for Ashkenazim during Pessach. To fully understand these opinions go here and here. Your rabbi eats Kitniyot.

Here you can find more information on Pessach.

The Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families – is a great resource too. 
Here are some YouTube links to famous Pessach Seder songs: 
Avadim hayinu
Ma nishtana
Chad Gadya
Echad mi yodea
Ha lachma
Karev jom
Bechol dor vador
Betzet Israel
Kol rina wiyeschu’a
Chassal siddur Pessach
Adir hu
Ki lo na’e
Leschana hab’a biYerushalayim

If you have questions please do not hesitate contacting me.

I wish you meaningful and joyous Pessach!

Your Rabbi