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Cleaning for Passover

Cleaning for Passover


Dear Rachel,

I am a student rooming in an apartment with another Jewish girl. Though neither of us is religious, I decided that I'd really like to be kosher for Passover this year, which obviously entails cleaning out the entire apartment. I have offered to cook all the food, but my roommate is up in arms about having to do an intense cleaning, and refuses to go along with it. Do you have any ideas of how I can communicate the importance of it to her? Or how I can convince her to respect the holiday, at least for my sake?


Dear M.T.,

Firstly, I'd like to say how beautiful it is that you are so determined to keep the holiday this year. I see that the situation may be a sticky one, being that it involves someone you live with… I understand the importance of keeping the peace! But, perhaps, I can offer you some alternate ideas, or suggestions on how to speak with your roommate. It's quite understandable that your roommate does not want to take part in the intense cleaning required for the holiday. I mean, how many of us actually enjoy getting down on our knees to clean kitchen corners? It would help if you could explain to your friend that keeping the holiday is important to you, and that you intend to respect and understand her side of the situation as well. I think this will create an environment that will allow you to discuss your thoughts on the matter.

Maybe you can offer to find a few friends who will be willing to clean with you, and your roommate need not clean at all. Let her know that you will absolutely respect her privacy and property, and will do your utmost to not turn the place topsy-turvy while she's around. Make it your responsibility to get as much done while she's out, and if that's not possible, make an effort to be as "invisible" as possible so as not to bother her. Or alternatively, and even better, you can throw a cleaning bash, and turn the tediousness of Passover-cleaning into a fun event – and who knows? Perhaps your roommate will be tempted to join!

If your roommate is less agreeable than I'm presuming, it might be a good idea if you could find another place to stay for the holiday. If you are living in a dormitory, maybe a group of girls can stick together in a kosher-for-Passover apartment that is willing to go for the full-blown cleaning deal. Or maybe you can get in touch with a local rabbi or Chabad House who can help you find a place to stay for the week. I'm sure they'd be glad to have an extra pair of hands around! I know the proposition might not be so enticing, but I hope that the Passover experience will override any discomfort and that you'll have a wonderful holiday.

Wishing you a happy Passover! Best of luck.


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Chana Lewis.

Chana Lewis is a student, freelance photographer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY.
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Anonymous Baltimore June 10, 2012

Awesome!! Reply

Anonymous Brentwood, NY March 15, 2012

You can do it My son was in college and roomed with three Gentiles. He was able to keep Pesach and you can also. First you are resposible for cleaning out your chometz - not anyone else's! Tell your roomate that you are going to clean the refrigerator --clean out all of your chometz --replace her foods (including chometz) iinto her half of the refrigerator --Place your Passover stuff double wrapped where possible into your half of the refrigerator. Clean your room --Clean your chometz out of all common areas. if you remove your chometz (you can box things things that are not perishable and "sell" (ask the Rabbi) those things that need to be sold. The main problem will be cooking as you cannot easily share the stove with your roommate's chometz. But you might be able to cook on a hotplate or small microwave in your room. The Holiday meals I hope you can enjoy with Chabad or maybe some friend or family member --but for the Chol Hamoed you should be able to manage. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 23, 2011

Kosher for Passover You can't force your roommate to do anything against her will. Since only one of you is Jewish, can't you do a REGULAR cleaning and just buy kosher foods? Reply

C Melbourne, Australia March 22, 2010

Passover cleaning is not spring cleaning I'm surprised that Rachel hasn't answered the obvious.
We need to clean for Passover, we don't need to spring clean.
Dust isn't chametz
Hopefully you don't eat inside your clothing drawers.
You won't be using curtains as a table cloth I hope.
and I hope you won't eat off your walls either.
I think I've made my point.
Other then that we all need to do an intense clean of our living areas from time to time regardless of it being a festival or not. Maybe you can present that idea to your friend. Reply

Anonymous New York , NY March 21, 2010

Passover Food Every year I'm finding htat my local supermarkets are offering less and less Pesach food and options with highly increased prices.
In the past I was able to borrow a friend's car (she's since sold it) and make my purchases in Brooklyn, but wondering if you can recommend anywhere I can make my purchases that will deliver to zip code 10010. Reply

Herty Takoradi, Ghana March 17, 2009

am glad my Pastor is also always alking about the passover and none of us would want to miss it this year. it is going to be my first time to celebrate the passover. and i hop you will help me know more about the passover bless you. i love this site Reply

Linda West Des Moines, Iowa April 27, 2008

i am happy that we found thispage. We are studying about Passover as well as the Exodus in our church and it has been very informative as we really want to find out as much as we can Reply

Cosmic Housecleaning April 7, 2008

Cleaning Tips Shoo Shoo children out of the house!!
Listen to opera; sacred music or whatever you like.
Use natural oranic cleaners - try fresh orange scent.
Whistle, sing or pray while you clean.
Open windows after cooking.
Don't forget the rungs of the window shafts are other collective places.
Have fun. Clean out the fridge of gunkies before you clean surfaces.
Enlist the help, if needed of professionals, friends, children, yes boys can help too Reply

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