Usually, when Purim comes around we are taken by surprise and thrown into a panic because Pesach is just four weeks away. This year, it seemed like Purim would never arrive and Pesach had been canceled! Every number of years, because of the ways the Hebrew calendar adjusts for the seasons, we find Pesach occurring late in April. This year is one of those years.
To add complications, the first seder is observed on Saturday night. Because it is not permissible to make preparations on Shabbat itself, and because the occurrence of Shabbat moves some dates and times, here is a brief guide to this peculiar year. You can find a comprehensive guide to these circumstances at:
and information about Pesach in general at: http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/indexfl.html
and click on 2008 Pesah Guide. You will also find both of these documents on the home page of our website www.AgudasAchim-va.org.
The Fast of the First Born is observed Thursday morning, April 17. Unless we are celebrating a brit milah or have a groom or bride present less than seven days after their wedding, we will exempt the first born with a siyyum (conclusion of study) at minyan beginning at 7:00 (note earlier time for minyan).
The search for chametz is conducted on Thursday night, April 17, including the blessing found in most Haggadot. If it is your intention not to eat chametz again until after Pesach, you should also recite the formula of nullification (kol chamirah...). We will also recite that formula in synagogue at 10:10 on Saturday morning after a symbolic meal for those who have challah on Friday night. The chametz should be burned Friday morning, by which time all preparations for Pesach should be complete. Cooking for the seder and Shabbat should be completed before sundown — all of it kosher for Passover.
You have two choices for Shabbat dinner. All food should be kasher l'Pesach, but making motzi presents a special dilemma. Eating matza before the seder is prohibited, but eating challah can bring the dread chametz in proximity to a clean kitchen. So, either use challah in an isolated area and carefully dispose of the remnants, or use "egg matza" (which is kosher for Passover, but not for use at the seder) instead. I recommend using disposable dishes and utensils for this and other Shabbat meals (be eco-conscious!).
The meal before Pesach should include neither challah nor egg matza (have some fruit) and conclude by about 6:00.
By Jewish law, seder should not begin until after sunset on Saturday. This year, that means after 8:30 pm. I know that means enforced naps and missed bedtimes and very late nights, as well as problems for small children. We will help you out a little bit. On Sunday, April 20 only, morning services will begin at 10:30 instead of 9:30.
This calendar year presents special challenges, but they are all part of the great Jewish adventure. Ann and our kids join me in wishing you a wonderful Pesach!