B. Shira Levine
Navigating new wilderness

Passover kashering for a Conservastructionewaldox (or whatever): Introduction

Time for my annual foray into the no-mans-land of making our home kosher for Pesach as an “observant, but not Orthodox” Jewish family.

(pause to turn off running water in the bathtub that is currently submerging my glass dishes)

Every year I search for a source clear, comprehensive, and authoritative for my level of observance; every year I come up short. One source doesn’t give a straight answer on plastic; another lets me totally off the hook for glass. This one calls itself “Passover Cleaning Made Easy” and is 9,000 words long; that one talks about stuff I’ve never even thought of and is scary to read. Last year I had a rabbi’s family staying with me over Shabbat so I was particularly intense about things.  Ahavath Achim’s Beinenu is still my current favorite as a starting place, but there’s no way a single newsletter can cover the nuances (for example, it talks about “table glassware,” but does not address glass bakeware).

Perhaps searching for a “single source” isn’t my answer. In a sense, this is indeed the Jewish way–our mode of study often entails reading a load of texts in our language and original language, all invariably in tension with one another, and deriving meaning and purpose. We are bound by halacha (side note: I tend to think that even “non-halachic” Judaism is an interpretation of halacha, but that’s a topic for another day); Jews have formed movements based on consistent interpretations of it, and each provides broad rabbinic rulings to guide those within it — but even there, debates abound. When we are uncertain, we are to consult a rabbi–but when should we consult one? Every Jew with a desire to makes decisions every day without consulting a rabbi, and it is this process of struggling with rules, interpretations, meanings as individuals, while choosing when to seek out authority in our learned rabbis — that provides an important means of connecting to God.

Kashering one’s home for Passover is the Mount Everest of making Jewish choices, some with guidance and some independent–so this year I’m journaling it. This is my 5778 process, not intended as a guide for others. I have consulted rabbis and numerous other sources both Orthodox and non-, but I am not a rabbi and I have no authority whatsoever to issue interpretations. I’m probably not going to achieve even my own aspirations of kosher-for-Passover, but perhaps I’ll uncover some purpose along the way.

You may notice that I’m using “I” instead of “we” — I’m taking on the bulk of this burden in our household not because of any gender role, but because this type of observance serves me spiritually in a way that resonates less with Michael, though he is supportive.

Here we go..

About the Author
B. Shira Levine writes about Jewish spirituality and observance, parenting, intersectionality, and the U.S. and Atlanta Jewish communities. Views are her own and not those of her employer, synagogues, or any other organization.