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.