In past years, when Jews in his area needed to sell their chametz (leaven) before the start of Passover, Rabbi Levi Dubinsky would meet them in person to fill out forms that would authorize him to sell their leavened products on their behalf. This year, though, with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic people are staying home, and Dubinsky—co-director the Chabad Jewish Center of Mountain Lakes, Denville and Boonton in New Jersey—says it’s important to be “creative” in helping people fulfill the mitzvah of mechirat chametz (selling one’s leaven) without leaving home.

“In the past, I would do it in person; we would meet, and they would fill out the [‘Sell Your Chametz’] form, sign it and hand it to me,” he said. “Now with the epidemic that’s going on, we have to be more creative, and we are doing it either via email or mail.”

Half the world has some form of stay-at-home orders in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, making it impossible for many Jews to sell their chametz in person. Because there are many legal aspects to the sale, it isn’t a simple transaction, which is why it is best handled with a rabbi acting as the sale agent.

To make it as easy as possible, especially for people under lockdown or who don’t have a local rabbi, offers an online “Sell Your Chametz” (at service devoted to selling chametz.

The sales form itself is fairly simple, requiring basic information like name and address, along with identifying where the chametz is located. And, like last year, people will be asked to indicate where they will be on the morning of Passover—this year on Wednesday, April 8—as the chametz must be sold at a specific time that is location dependent. has been offering the service for decades and is the leader globally in online chametz sales. Last year, upwards of 90,000 people sold their chametz through the website; this year, some 350,000 households around the world are expected to utilize's service by the time Passover dawns. More than 1 million will have sold it through their local Chabad rabbi, online, by mail or by phone.

“Due to the present circumstance and in the best interest for everyone’s safety, this year the selling of chametz will be performed online,” the leadership of Congregation Levi Yitzchak in Los Angeles wrote in a message to their members. “While it is preferable to make this transaction in person, nevertheless due to the situation we are relying on an online mechirah [‘sale’]. In today’s modern world, these transactions are considered a valid and reliable form of acquisition.”

The practice of selling chametz has two parts. Before Passover, which begins this year at sundown on April 8, Jews sell their chametz to a non-Jew. This enables them to keep food items in their homes and offices, even though they are prohibited from eating them on Passover. These items must be kept in a closed and sealed cabinet so that they are not inadvertently used during the holiday. After Passover concludes, the food is bought back on behalf of the original owners.

Rabbi Levy Zirkind, director of Chabad of Central Valley in Fresno, Calif., told that like not eating leavened items during Passover, selling chametz is an important part of the holiday observance.

“We sell chametz because even though people will say, ‘I don’t have any bread, and I don’t have this or that,’ they may have whiskey alcohol or pastas or other foods, not thinking it’s chametz. If they sell it,” he said, “then they are not in violation of having it in their house.”