By Hannah Berman

Purim is behind us and my thoughts are the same as they are every year at this time. I am trying to determine who would be happy to receive my leftover mishloach manot.

Willpower is not my strong suit, so I don’t immediately dispose of everything I receive. As hard as I try to control my sweet tooth, there are certain treats I can’t resist. However, since Purim is followed by Pesach, in only one month’s time, those treats, most of which are chametz, can’t be left in my house. Tossing food out is not an option; I would never do that. But my kids don’t want the stuff. Nor do my friends. All of them have the same issue that I do. It has to be gone before Pesach, and the cleaning starts well before the holiday arrives. That gives those of us who will be staying home less than a month to make the kitchen Pesach-ready.

Purim was, as always, festive and fun. Au contraire, Passover preparation does not fall in the “fun” category. While I am not normally one who procrastinates, getting ready for the holiday of Passover is an exception. I push out of consciousness the thoughts of what awaits me and I want to put off the job of clearing things out of the kitchen for as long as possible. I would like to do the same for the shopping. That never works out too well, however, since the supermarkets refuse to allow anyone the luxury of waiting.

Immediately after the Purim seudah is over, the countdown begins. Store shelves fill up with Passover products and despite the fact that the next holiday is a month away, one has to hunt for a loaf of bread. Bread does remain in the store—but the trick is finding it! All the products get moved around. This is understandable because the job for the supermarket workers is monumental. Shelves that hold chametz items that are in glass jars or bottles are not an issue, but the shelves that normally hold bread products are another story. Those shelves need to be cleaned before they are filled with Pesach goods. This is the way it is done, but it surprises me, because I have yet to see a single crumb on those shelves during the year. Nevertheless we gotta do what we gotta do!

I will confess that I occasionally wonder what the Spanish-speaking workers in the store think. These guys and gals are always pleasant and helpful but they must wonder about us. First, all the Purim goodies had to be displayed—not just the edible treats but graggers, masks, and assorted costume accessories. And seemingly in a heartbeat all of that is out of sight and must be replaced by Pesach foods. It is likely that most of the workers have never seen people shop so much. They must also wonder how much cooking, baking, and eating we do! If I had to hazard a guess, I would say they are thrilled not to have a holiday such as this. Like most other non-Jews, their holidays are typically one-day events that necessitate far less preparation.

Despite the fact that many of us would like to put off the Pesach shopping, we can’t. The reason is because certain items will disappear—and they will not be restocked. So, whether we like it or not, most of the food purchases have to be made as soon as the items appear.

These days that follow Purim are busy ones as we get rid of chametz in the house while shopping for Pesach food. People with young children will hang on to loaves of bread for as long as possible since kids tend to like sandwiches. The same is true for snack items. The trick (and it can be tricky) is to keep bread and snacks apart from everything else.

Pesach is a holiday I enjoy—but only once it is here. What I do not enjoy is preparing for it. And since the prep time is so intense, I occasionally feel that it should be longer than eight days. It often feels that I just got through preparing for it when I have to undo everything that I did. And then, oddly, the Pesach foods that seemed so appealing during those eight days suddenly seem less appealing. The kids are no longer interested in eating Passover “rolls” or “matzah pizza.” They want to chomp down on a real, honest-to-goodness roll or go into a pizza parlor for a slice. Year after year, that’s the way it always is.

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and can be reached at or 516-295-4435. Read more of Hannah Berman’s articles on


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