Ready, Set, Go Pesach! Preparing for Passover in 10 Steps
From Lisa Katz, former About.com Guide
Before Passover, the house needs to be cleaned so that all chametz (leavened) items are removed. Don’t forget the bag of crackers in your bag. Look in your desk? Lift the sofa cushions to vacuum the popcorn and bread crumbs. While you are at it, you might as well throw some Spring cleaning in there – get out the summer clothes and put away the winter blankets and coats.
As you prepare and clean, may you find and learn the Spiritual lessons God has in store just for you.
Before you have looked up from the dusting, Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat before Passover, arrives. It is called Shabbat HaGadol because it marks the beginning of the redemption.
On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan (the Shabbat before the exodus on the fifteenth of Nissan), the Israelites in Egypt prepared the Pesach-lamb (Exodus 12:3Exodus 12:3
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: lamb: or, kid
WP-Bible plugin). When their neighbors asked them what they were doing, the Israelites explained that the lambs would be sacrificed on the fourteenth of Nissan, just before G-d would slay the firstborn of Egypt. The people begged their parents and Pharaoh to release the Israelites…
Shop for all those specialty Passover foods and products. So many kosher for Passover cakes, cookies, and cereals. One can almost last the whole week without missing chametz… buy extra fruits and vegetables to eat during Passover.
Make a careful shopping list. What dishes do you plan to make during the week?
Now that the house is stocked, it is time to start to cook for the Seder. Better put aside at least 2 days to cook for the Seder, as many of the dishes are not ones you do everyday and you may miss something. While cooking, be careful to keep the remaining chametz you have in the house in a separate area.
Searching for Chametz
Finally it is the night before Passover, and it is time to gather your family in your sparkling clean home for Bidikat Chametz. to Search for Chametz3. Once all the chametz in the house is found and burned, we are ready for the Passover Seder.
…During the seder itself, make sure there are opportunities for the children to participate. Did the little ones practice singing the Four Questions? Did the older ones learn something about Passover at school which they can share with everyone at the table? Perhaps you can prepare some questions about the Passover story to ask the children during the seder.
Make your seder a memorable and enjoyable experience for the whole family. A SNACK and/or a nap before the seder is recommended for all, not just the kids, so that everyone arrives with good energy and spirit. During the seder, make sure everyone is involved and made to feel apart of the story of the exodus…Exodus is OUR story.
Make your Seder especially memorable! At one Seder a neighbor dressed up like Elijah, and when it was time to open the door for Elijah he walked in, drank the cup of wine, and left. A few years ago, friends of mine asked all their guests to dress up like desert nomads. Then they conducted their seder on the floor as if they were in a tent in the desert.
Preparing the Passover Plate
It is important to prepare the six symbolic items – zeroa, beitza, karpas, maror, chazeret, charoset – which should go on the seder plate. See this quick, step-by-step page on How to Prepare the Seder Plate4.
Setting the Passover Table
The following is needed to set the table for the Passover Seder:
- Festive tablecloth and napkins
- Passover dishes, flatware, water glasses, and wine glasses
- small dishes of salt water for dipping at each table (reminder of tears)
- enough bottles of wine and grape juice for each person to have four cups
- a plate with 3 pieces of matzah on it and a cover over it
- seder plate
Each place setting should include a plate, flatware, a water glass, a wine glass, a Haggadah, the Passover story.