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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Clifton—Every year, as winter draws to an end, we watch for signs of spring, looking forward to the changes the new season will bring. We feel a sense of anticipation for happy days to come. It is fitting then that the joyous holiday of Passover is celebrated at this time of year. As trees and flowers bloom and blossom, freed from winter’s dormancy, they seem to echo the spirit of this celebration of freedom from captivity for the Jewish people.

At Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute, there are myriad preparations that need to be completed before this holiday can be celebrated. One of the biggest tasks is cleaning the two extensive commercial kitchens which provide meals to over 600 skilled nursing residents, sub-acute patients and apartment tenants every day.

All foods prohibited during Passover are removed from the Center. This chometz includes all leavened foods, such as those made from wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt, or anything derived from those grains. Also included are rye, corn and peas, as well as any type of legume or bean. The plates, serving ware and cooking tools used throughout the year are stored while special utensils used for the eight days of Passover are brought out.

One of the more unusual cleaning tools is used on the ovens. After they have been cleaned and scraped, a blowtorch is used to burn away any chometz that might be left over. A feather is the traditional tool for dusting away the smallest particles that could remain.

Immediately before the holiday begins, there is often chometz still left in the home. Rather than waste this food, a bill of sale is arranged to a non-Jewish person. This formal removal of the items from the household is a time-honored tradition and the Center’s rabbi acts as an agent for the residents and tenants. They may then re-purchase the chometz after Passover has ended.

Seders are held in the skilled nursing facility and in the apartment building on the first and second nights of the holiday. Family and friends are invited to join the residents and tenants in this joyous celebration. The beautiful traditions of Passover are maintained as the four questions are asked, the Haggadah is read and the Seder plate graces the table. The food services department carefully prepares delicious holiday fare to make the evening special. In addition, throughout the holiday, special trips, entertainment and visits from school children make the holiday joyous.

Members of the community are invited to join Center residents, tenants and family members for the Seder. There is a nominal fee. For information, please contact the marketing and development office at 973-253-5281.