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All About Pesach / Passover 5783-2023 at FTJC

Spring of parsley

FTJC is here for us with guidance and resources for a chag kasher vesame'ach, a kosher and joyful holiday. Our collective journey continues. Step by step, we'll get closer to that freer future that's over the horizon.

Quick links:
Second Night Community Seder
First Night Seder - host or be hosted
Pre-Pesach Prep
Selling Chametz
Kashering for Passover
Burning Chametz
Fast of the First-Born
Service Times and Locations
Community Picnic, Day 2
Lighting Candles and Cooking for Shabbat and Yom Tov

Second Night Community Seder

Register now, by end of Sunday April 2 at midnight.
Celebrate with community! Rabbi Guy Austrian will lead a joyful Seder full of discussion, song, learning, and drama. At 7:15, join us for Minchah and Ma'ariv prayers. At 8:00 PM, sit down for the Seder. Kiddush for the First Cup will be promptly at 8:08 PM. Children are warmly welcome to stay as late as they can and can play in a play corner with books and toys provided. Dinner by a certified kosher caterer, with meat and vegetarian options, with no kitniyot. Open to all! $50.00 adult member, $55.00 adult nonmember, $25.00 children ages 4 to 12. Children under age 4, free. If cost is a hardship, please e-mail; subsidies are available. DEADLINE for reservation and payment: end of THURSDAY, MARCH 30 at 11:59 PM. Unfortunately, no refunds are possible after this date.

First Night Seder, Host or Be Hosted

Register by Saturday March 25, 11:59 PM
Looking for a First Night Seder, or potentially have some extra room at your table? Sign up to host or be hosted for the first night of Passover with other members of the FTJC community! Sign ups will work the same as our Shabbat meal mixers; please let us know if you plan to participate by filling out this form by 11:59pm on March 25. Matches will be sent out by Monday March 27, and you can reach out to Sarah at with any questions!

Pre-Pesach Prep

Help Others to Afford Pesach — Ma’ot Chittin
Pesach can be expensive! That’s why our tradition includes the mitzvah of donating ma’ot chittin (literally, “wheat money”) to help Jews afford the basics. This year, the need is great. The Jewish Community of Washington Heights and Inwood helps to ensures that these needs are met. Donations are welcome via website or via Zelle/QuickPay to or via Venmo @jewishcommunitycouncil. Donations also welcome to the FTJC Rabbi's Discretionary Fund. If you need financial help yourself, please contact the JCC or e-mail Rabbi Austrian as soon as possible.

Get Rid of Your Chametz–Food Drive for JCC-WHI
Can’t eat all that pasta and cereal before Pesach? Give it away to the JCC-WHI food pantry, which serves the entire neighborhood. Donated food must have a hechsher (kosher symbol), be not opened, not expired, and not “junk food”! Drop it off at 121 Bennett Ave #11A @ W. 187th St.  A local Community Fridge, such as the one at Fort Washington Ave. and 181st St., is another great place to give. 

Sell the Chametz Left Behind — Mechirat Chametz
Chametz should neither be seen in your home, business or vehicle, nor owned by you, during Pesach. Chametz includes not only wheat, but also spelt, rye, oats, and barley. In a case where getting rid of your chametz would cause you a substantial loss (e.g., your collections of small-batch bourbon and heirloom spelt flours, or all your year-round pots and pans), you can put it out of sight and out of reach, and authorize Rabbi Austrian to sell it on your behalf to a non-Jew, for the duration of Pesach. CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT THE AUTHORIZATION FORM — DEADLINE: end of Monday, April 3, at midnight.

Make Your Kitchen Kosher
Scrub, switch, boil, wash — the process of kashering a kitchen for Pesach can be exhaustive and exhausting, but it doesn't need to be. Approached with a sense of sacred avodah (work, or divine service), it can be a beautifully focused discipline, and achievable in a few hours. Just don’t leave it to the last minute!

Kashrut and cleaning guidelines are available in the Pesach Guide of the Rabbinical Assembly, as well as from Star-K and OU certification agencies.

Video tutorials: Two series of brief videos on kashering your kitchen for Pesach are available from the Rabbinical Assembly and from the Hadar Institute.

The "Minimalist's Guide to Passover and Seder" (updated 2021) by Rabbanit Leah Sarna may also be helpful in understanding what's essential, to save time and money.

Kitniyot: A Long Note about Small Things
Until recently, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative) upheld the longstanding Ashkenazi minhag (custom) of refraining from eating kitniyot (literally, “small things”) which include beans, corn, millet, peas, rice, soy, and some other plant-based foods such as mustard, buckwheat and sesame seeds. In Fall 2015 the CJLS approved two responsa (halachic opinions) which permit the consumption of kitniyot for Ashkenazim. To fully understand their positions, which differ in their reasons, please see here and here; to read the dissenting opinion see hereThe FTJC Second Night Community Seder and our communal spaces will continue to not include kitniyot. If you would like to discuss your own practice, feel free to contact Rabbi Austrian. We trust that our community members will speak with one another about this issue with utmost respect and kindness, not indulging in gossip or judgment.

Resources for Making a Seder
We are delighted to make available again the FTJC Siblinghood Cookbook full of easy and delicious Passover recipes; a compilation of links to online haggadahs, translations, transliterations, and common melodies. Two recent resources are A Different Pesach: Ideas for Solo and Small Sedarim, written by a team of innovative Jewish educators, as well as The Solo Seder

Find and Burn the Last Crumbs of Chametz — Bedikah and Bi’ur
Tuesday night April 4, and Friday morning April 5

This blessing guide contains the procedures and blessings for finding, annulling, and burning the last crumbs of chametz in your house. See also this Bedikat Chametz FAQ.

Step One: Fun for kids and grownups of all ages! On Tuesday night, April 4, “hide” and “find” a few last pieces of bread or other chametz in the house, by candlelight. Gather the crumbs safely in a sealed bag. The search is also a spiritual one, for the last bits of pride and oppression inside of you. Get ready to burn them up.

Step Two: On Wednesday morning, April 5, destroy the chametz you found. You can crumble and flush it (if it won't bust the pipes), burn it carefully in a metal sink, or put into the garbage (outside your apartment - ideally out of the building but at least in the building's communal garbage area). But preferably (and more dramatically) you can burn up your last crumbs (and the utensils used in the search) in a fire barrel behind the Hirsch Yeshiva on Bennett Ave. between W. 184 and W. 185. Either way, conclude by reciting the final nullification formula.

Step Three: The latest time for eating chametz is Wednesday April 5 at 10:22 AM. The latest time for removing or destroying any remaining chametz, and reciting the final nullification formula, is 11:40 AM (in Washington Heights and Inwood).

Fast or Feast for the First-Born
Siyyum for Ta’anit Bechorot
Wednesday April 5, 7:30 AM

Location: Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall
Registration encouraged but not required, to help us provide the right amount of food.

Our Sages mark the horror of, and our deliverance from, the Plague of the Slaying of the First-Born, by prescribing a Fast of the First-Born (Ta’anit Bechorot) on the day before the first night of Pesach, from dawn until the Seder. This fast applies to adult Jews of all genders who are first-born (or only) children of any of their parents.

But we traditionally replace the fast with a se’udat mitzvah (ritual meal) in response to the siyyum (completion) of a substantial portion of Jewish text learning. To be exempt from the fast, join the community for morning prayers, a brief teaching led by our Ritual Committee co-chair Jamie Weisbach on Masechet Nazir of the Babylonian Talmud, and one last bagel & shmear.

You can bring your sealed bag of last chametz from your search of the night before, and we’ll make a group trip to the fire barrel on Bennett Ave. to burn it up!

Please register so that we know we will have a minyan and enough bagels to go around!

Prayer Services and Yizkor
Join us for festival prayers, complete with special Torah readings, joyful and song-filled Hallel, and once-a-year sacred poetry including Tal (the Prayer for Dew) and Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs). All services at our usual rental home in the Hebrew Tabernacle Social Hall.

Shabbat Hagadol – Saturday, April 1, 9:00 AM
In addition to FTJC's usual Shabbat services, including Children's Services, Rabbi Guy Austrian will address the community on a topic relating to the halachot (pathways and practices) of Pesach.

Pesach Day 1, Thursday April 6, 9:00 AM
Featuring “Tal” (A Prayer for Dew) at Musaf — don’t miss this dramatic once-a-year prayer, in which initial letters fall from tav ת to aleph א, like dew descending from the divine, like redemption upon our people and our land. Classrooms will be available for informal children's programming and lightly supervised play.

Pesach Day 2, Friday, April 7, 9:00 AM
This day is also Easter Sunday -- in order to accommodate the churches with whom we share the Hebrew Tabernacle building, we will be praying earlier and faster. Classrooms will be available for informal children's programming and lightly supervised play.

Pesach Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed, Saturday, April 8, 9:00 AM
with Hallel, Torah reading, and Musaf. Children's services at 10:45 AM, with classrooms available until then for lightly supervised play.

Pesach Chol Hamo'ed, Sunday April 9 through Tuesday April 11
no services

Yizkor Online, Monday April 10, 8:00 PM
Zoom link
Rabbi Guy will lead a Yizkor service on Zoom for anyone who is unable to attend our in-person Pesach services. All are welcome as we remember those who have passed with words of Torah, psalms, and a modified Mourner's Kaddish.

Pesach Day 7, Wednesday April 12, 9:00 AM
Featuring “Shirat Ha-Yam,” the dramatic reading of the Song at the Sea. Classrooms will be available for informal children's programming and lightly supervised play.

Pesach Day 8, Thursday April 13, 9:00 AM -- with Yizkor at about 10:45 AM
Remembering those who have left our world with Yizkor's psalms, readings and the liturgy of mourning. Donations in honor of Yizkor may be made to FTJC by clicking here. Also featuring “Shir ha-Shirim” (“The Song of Songs”) -- erotic, poetic, multi-gendered, and chanted in a beautiful melody of longing and desire, casting the Liberation at Pesach as a love affair between Israel and the Holy One. Classrooms will be available for informal children's programming and lightly supervised play.

Community Picnic, Passover Day 2

Friday April 7, 12:00-2:00 PM
Cafe Lawn, Fort Tryon Park
Weather permitting. No registration required. Please bring your own K for P food! We hope for a lovely, informal time to be together in the sun.

Lighting Candles and Cooking for Shabbat and Yom Tov

Day 1 of Pesach begins with a Wednesday night First Seder, into the daytime of Thursday. Day 2 begins with a Thursday night Second Seder, into the daytime of Friday. To light candles for Day 2, we do not light a new flame (or extinguish one), but we can transfer an existing flame.

Candle-lighting time on Wednesday evening is 7:07 PM, 18 minutes before sunset. Before Yom Tov begins, prepare a long-burning flame (such as a 25-hour candle or a pilot light on a gas stove), then light two candles as usual, and bless "...lehadlik ner shel yom tov" and "shehechiyanu." 

To keep the first Yom Tov a day of celebration, we try to set up for the Second Seder as much as possible beforehand. Other preparations ideally wait until after sunset on Thursday afternoon (7:25 PM).

For Day 2 on Thursday evening, candle-lighting time is 8:08 PM, nightfall. Transfer fire from the existing flame, using a match or stick. Then light two candles and bless "...lehadlik ner shel yom tov" and "shehechiyanu." Do not extinguish the match or stick but let it go out on a tray.

Shabbat begins immediately after the two days of Yom Tov. On a typical Yom Tov, we are permitted to cook only for that day, so how can we cook on Friday for Shabbat? We make an "eruv tavshilin" (literally, a "mixing of cooking"), which allows us to cook during the Yom Tov for Shabbat. In this ritual, we begin the Shabbat cooking *before* Day 1 begins, and set aside a small portion of two cooked foods. We recite a blessing and declaration. We may then continue the cooking for Shabbat during Pesach Days 1 and 2 (until Friday, 7:16 PM, 18 minutes before sunset), as long as it does not require lighting a new flame or directly extinguishing a flame. We complete the circle by eating the two set-aside foods during Shabbat. Shabbat ends at 8:10 PM with Havdalah as usual.

Day 7, Yom Tov, begins on a Tuesday night into Wednesday, followed by Day 8 which is Wednesday night into Thursday. Candle-lighting time for Day 7 on Tuesday evening is 7:13 PM, 18 minutes before sunset. Before the holiday begins, prepare a long-burning flame (such as a 25-hour candle or a pilot light on a gas stove), then light two candles as usual, and bless "...lehadlik ner shel yom tov."

For Day 8 on Wednesday evening, candle-lighting time is 7:14 PM,18 minutes before sunset. Transfer fire from the existing flame, using a match or stick. If your custom is to light a memorial candle for Yizkor, which will be recited on Thursday morning at shul, first light that candle. Then light two candles as usual and bless "...lehadlik ner shel yom tov." Do not extinguish the match or stick but let it go out on a tray. Havdalah at 8:16 PM brings the conclusion of Shabbat. Havdalah is recited over wine or grape juice with the blessings "borei peri hagafen" and "hamavdil" only.

Sat, April 1 2023 10 Nisan 5783