Service Dates and Times
This year, Pesach begins on Motzei Shabbat, March 27th. We will be holding in-person services, so see the Calendar for details, and click here for more information and booking details. Below is our programme during the Chag, information on selling your Hametz, dealing with the complications of Erev Pesach falling on a Shabbat, and resources for your seder this year.
Sale of Hametz
According to Jewish law, one must not have any hametz in his or her possession during Pesach. To accomplish this, we use up as much hametz as possible before the festival, we thoroughly clean our home, we check our home for hametz and symbolically burn hametz we find, and we recite a formula declaring any hametz that has not been found to be nullified “as the dust of the earth”. Finally, we sell any hametz we wish to keep over the festival to a non-Jew so that it will not formally be in our possession.
Kol Nefesh members and friends are invited to sell their chametz via Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior rabbi of Masorti Judaism in the UK. Here is a link to the online form on the NNLS website appointing Rabbi Wittenberg to act on your behalf in the sale of the hametz. The form should be submitted online by March 25th.
How to deal with Pesach falling on a Motsei Shabbat, from Rabbi Joel
For those who are interested or concerned by the fact that Pesach falls just after Shabbat this year the following describes a few ways of dealing with going “Kosher l’Pesach” under such circumstances.
The rules around chametz are in some ways stricter than any other Jewish dietary laws. Non-kosher meat we are not allowed to eat but we can sell or feed to our animals. Milk and meat that have been cooked together cannot even be sold or benefited from in any way. Chametz on Pesach (i.e. products made of oat, wheat, rye, barley or spelt flour that have come into contact with water) cannot be eaten, benefited from or even held on our property (see Exodus 13:7, 12:19, 12:15)! That unique depth of prohibition means that some people go to a lot of effort to remove their chametz before Pesach via a multi-layer cleansing process; firstly by finishing it off or giving it away before the holiday, then by cleaning the house thoroughly (normally from Rosh Chodesh Nissan onwards), then by ritually selling any chametz that cannot be disposed of, then by ritually searching for any remnants the night before the seder with a candle and feather, then by ritually burning anything left over the morning before the seder together with a verbal declaration that any remaining chametz is “as dust of the earth to us” –i.e. we will no longer treat it as food. Chametz on Pesach evokes a very extreme response; strange for a food that for 51 weeks a year is perfectly kosher!
Normally we stop eating chametz before around 10am on the day before seder night, do our final burning and verbal nullification before 11-ish, and Torah prohibitions on eating chametz kick in at around mid-day.
When Pesach falls on a Sunday this process is disrupted because of not being able to perform some of those activities on Shabbat, so your house should go basically “Kosher l’Pesach” a day early. You search for any left-over chametz by candlelight on Thursday night and then do bi'ur chametz, burning any left-over chametz, on the Friday morning. You should not say the verbal declaration (the piece nullifying your chametz – bitul chametz) on the Friday if you are planning on eating chametz on Shabbat, as that would be self-contradictory.
Regarding eating challot on Shabbat, one possibility is to keep a small table in one corner with 3 or 4 challot on it for use on Shabbat. You can make regular Kiddush and then eat challah on Friday night on the small table and then go to the main table for your “Kosher l’Pesach” Friday night meal.
On Shabbat morning you can also eat challah but only early in the morning. The last time for eating chametz on Shabbat in London this year is 10.00am. After this time you need to get rid of any last remnants of chametz in your house either by eating them or by flushing them down the toilet or the dog. Best thing is to try to get exactly the right amount of challah so that you will finish it all.
You should do bitul chametz, the formal verbal renunciation of chametz, before
11.04 am. Anyone in shul on Shabbat can do that together in the morning. The last time for eating chametz beyond which there is a Torah prohibition is just after mid-day.
At Seudah Shlishit, tea time, you can eat “Matzah Ashirah” – rich sweet matzah which is like egg matzah. It is made with no water at all – only fruit juice and egg and oil. You should definitely not eat real matzah as a replacement for challah on Shabbat. Some people use Matsah Ashirah as a replacement for challah throughout Shabbat, but why not live dangerously!
There is a positive side to Pesach falling straight after Shabbat. Since you are not supposed to do any Pesach preparation on Shabbat you may find that you have a much more restful pre-Pesach than in normal years – entering the chag rested as opposed to frazzled. Try to get everything ready before Shabbat and then get a well-deserved snooze on Shabbat afternoon!
Join Rabbi Joel and Chazan Jacky as they romp through the Pesach Hagadah and invite everyone to share tunes and reminiscences. Come to remember old tunes, learn new ones and revel in the music of the seder. Tuesday March 16th at 8pm on Zoom, with a final Pesach session on March 23rd.
Seder at a Time of Lockdown, and Other Resources
Click here to read “Corona and Seder-ing alone” by Rabbi Joel and Leon Wiener Dow.
Read here for guidance on how to celebrate Pesach this year from Rabbi Jonathan Wittenburg.
Download the “Seder in Time of the Plague: Reflections, Suggestions, Readings, Activities for a Seder where Families are Separated”, produced by Noam and Mishael Zion (authors of “A Different Night”).
René Cassin's Passover Seder companion, celebrating the untold stories of the women of Exodus, is here.
Why is this Seder Different? Tips and tricks to keep kids entertained, by Rina Wolfson.
Miriam's Story - Women and water in sub-Saharan Africa, by Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts.
Enjoy your Seders!