There’s nothing like Passover in Israel. Regardless of one’s level of religious observance, there’s no escaping the all-encompassing Passover ambiance here that starts a couple weeks earlier. The most noticeable aspect of Passover preparations in Israel are the grocery stores across the country that replace the food from the rest of the year with the “Kosher for Passover” products. But it doesn’t end with food.
For Jews who learned the laws of Passover, oven cleaners and bleaches with ‘Approved for Passover’ labels seem strange. After all, Jewish law clearly only requires food that even dogs would eat to be kosher for Passover. But, no dog in the world would eat cleaning supplies！
However, the story behind ‘Approved for Passover’ labels on Israeli cleaning supplies is telling of the uniqueness of the Jewish people, and especially those who live in Israel. Only those who have learned Jewish Law are well-versed in all of its complexities know that no certification is required on cleaning products. On the other hand, almost all Israelis take the Torah’s requirement to rid our homes of ‘Chametz’ (leavened products) and Passover cleaning seriously. When the simple, unlearned masses go shopping in preparation for Passover, they look for the ‘kosher for Passover’ label on everything, including cleaning supplies. If the label doesn’t appear, they don’t buy.
When the executives from the cleaning product companies approached the “Badatz” (most ubiquitous dietary law certification) and asked for a ‘kosher for Passover label’, they refused. “Anything that dogs don’t eat doesn’t need to be kosher for Passover!”, Badatz replied. “But the simple masses aren’t buying from us”, the executives explained. Eventually, “Badatz” reluctantly agreed to put the ‘Approved for Passover’ label on many cleaning supplies.
In the Shabbat afternoon service, one of the lines reads ‘Who is like your people Israel, one nation in the Land?” Ironically, although the religious Jews who recite this prayer every week know that cleaning supplies don’t need to be ‘approved for Passover’, those who don’t always make it to synagogue show just how true this statement is. And as for Israeli dogs, they get to dine on kosher for Passover dog food, Matzah and other holiday favorites for an entire week!
Eric Grosser is a native of East Liverpool Ohio, and received his B.A from the Ohio State University and M.B.A from Bar-Ilan University. Eric is a certified Israel Tour Guide and founder of Holy Land Escape. He lives with his wife Einav Grosser and six children in Rehovot, Israel, and writes extensively, on current events and every-day life in modern Israel.