/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
Sociologists have long reported that the most widely observed Jewish holiday among American Jews is Passover. This year the first seder, the official kick off of the eight day festival is to be held on the evening of March 25th.
Pesach popularity makes a lot of sense, As an educator, I value the seder and the accompanying haggadah. It is a well organized lesson, commits serious seder participants to their heritage, and enables them to identify with ancestors, placing themselves in ancestral shoes as they remember the House of Bondage, exodus and redemption.
Still, despite its popularity, serious Pesach observance can be very expensive, perhaps more expensive than appropriate. Why should the bread of affliction, bread made so cheaply that any poor person should be able to afford it, cost many times more than the poof bread upon which many subsist the rest of the year? And for those who wish to glorify the mitzvah of matzah eating, and use handmade, shmurah matzah on Passover, why is the cost nearly prohibitive?
How can Passover costs be lowered? Several ways occur to any serious consumer. Why indulge in prepared foods, junk foods and high end candy more during this eight day span than any other time of the year? Instead of preparing foods, cakes and baked goods from kits priced at nearly $6.00 or more, use raw ingredients to bake at a fraction of the cost. Whether made from kits or from matzoh meal and eggs, matzoh balls should taste identical. Matzoh meal costs as much as $4.00 a pounds, sometimes more. Still, with a food processor it is easy to make a pound of matzoh meal for $1.25. The same can be said for many items that grace our festival tables. Drinking four cups of wine or grape juiceand eating the ritually required matzoh is not cheap, but the other foods eaten do not have to be expensive.
With all due respect to Rokeach, Season, Galil, Paskecz and an assortment of other Passover brands that make a killing each year with overpriced packaged and canned items, consider less costly brands that may be available year round but remain kosher for Passover, even without a Passover label.
Each year the Orthodox Union publishes a list of approved Passover foods. It features items under its supervision. For many years Kashrut.org, publishers of Kashrus magazine, also made its Passover good guide available to the public. Kashrus magazine is widely recognized as an arbiter of integrity in the kashrut supervision industry. It should follow that items listed in its guide should be accepted as kosher for Pesach by the most scrupulous of Kashrut observers.
I have looked at the Kashrut.org kashrut guide, and I will be the first to admit that some of the foods listed seemed misplaced. There are numerous approved items on the list that I would never eat during Pesach; but despite my reluctance, I understand the rational of the experts who assembled the list.
If money is tight, do not be afraid to comparison shop. I have seen five pounds of the same brand of matzoh sold for prices ranging from $5.99 to $12.99. The same can be said of other food items.
Pesach is my favorite holiday. I have no doubt. I hope readers enjoy it as much as I. I carefully watch pennies, but I assure readers that all who eat at my table will enjoy delicious foods, including a variety of recipes that have been passed down for generations, and made for Passover with no more expense than any other season.
A Happy and Kosher Holiday to all!