When she was growing up in South London, Laura Liss and her family didn’t follow the Jewish tradition of selling their chametz (leavened foods) for Passover. That changed after her brother became more Torah observant and explained this important mitzvah to her, urging her to do it each year.

Now married, she and her husband, Alan, live in Cardiff, Wales, and sell their chametz with the help of the local Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, Rabbi Michoel Rose, who also serves as the rabbi at the Cardiff United Synagogue. Usually, Alan Liss would handle the kinyan (symbolic transfer of ownership rights) with the rabbi in person, but with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, having an electronic option “makes selling the chametz very easy,” said Laura Liss.

“The community [here] has had a very long tradition of selling the chametz,” explained Rabbi Rose. “Normally, we do a sale in person with a kinyan for the community. This year due to COVID, we are doing this by a form, written or emailed, as people are isolating at home. Any reduction in hand-to-hand contact is currently being maintained with us still in level four lockdown.”

While it is preferable for people to sell their chametz in person, circumstances—like a global pandemic, for instance—can prevent someone from being able to do so. To ensure that all Jews regardless of location can sell their chametz, several years back, Chabad.org created an online site “Sell Your Chametz” (at Chabad.org/SellChametz) devoted to this Passover observance.

The online sales form is fairly simple, requiring information like a name and address, along with stating where the chametz is located. This year, people will also be asked to indicate where they will be on the morning of Friday, March 26, as chametz must be sold at a specific time that is location-dependent.

Most years, chametz is sold the morning before Passover begins. However, as the holiday begins this year on a Saturday evening, the sale must take place on Friday prior to Shabbat.

“Sell Your Chametz” is available in several languages and saw record traffic last year because of the pandemic. With restrictions easing up in some areas this year, usage is not expected to be quite as high, but will still be a benefit to those in lockdown, who live geographically far from a local rabbi, are homebound or for some other reason find it difficult to handle the transaction in person.

Rabbi Yosef Lipsker, co-director with his wife, Chana, of Chabad-Lubavitch of Berks County in Pennsylvania, says he has seen an increase in the number of people selling their chametz over years.

“I think it’s becoming more well known,” he said. “Just like with eating shmurah matzah, people are learning about selling the chametz, and a lot has to with Chabad.org and the emails Chabad rabbis send out. We are educating people about these ideas.”

Twenty years ago, people may not have known about these traditions, he continued, but now with smartphones, a range of apps and the much heavier use of devices and technology, the information is more ubiquitous.

In addition to helping area Jews sell their chametz, Lipsker will be helping patients at the nearby Caron Treatment Center for addiction fulfill the commandment to get rid of leavened products during Passover.

“There are some Jewish people who will be there over Pesach, and I will go over and become their agent to sell their chametz,” the rabbi said. “Many know about the mitzvah, but they are without their tools—their phones, their computers and not in a regular routine—so besides providing them with matzah and Passover food, I will help them with this.”

Readers who don’t have access to a local rabbi can sell their chametz at: Chabad.org/SellChametz.