Immediately following Purim, it is traditional to begin studying the laws of Passover, as a way of reviewing all that’s involved in preparing and celebrating the holiday (which starts this year on April 22.) For most of us, those four weeks are more than sufficient to do everything required, including cleaning our homes, planning meals, and purchasing a whole new inventory of food. And while the supermarkets would have one believe we need seven to eight weeks to prepare, in reality I guess most people don’t even look at the Passover aisles until a couple weeks before.
The same cannot be said for the Wilf Campus. Our Passover preparations begin in early January, with a meeting to discuss how we can create a traditional Passover atmosphere for our residents and their families. It is a multi-departmental undertaking, involving our dietary services, housekeeping, activities , administrative and – of course – myself. We meet again about once every three weeks, to ensure we are accomplishing all our goals on schedule.
We allocate tasks for the day we clean the kitchens in Stein Assisted Living and Wilentz Senior Residence; plan menus for the entire Passover period; review and edit recipes, and order all new food stock; and we review and reprint our Haggadot ( Passover celebration books).
Approximately two weeks before Passover, I lead a campus-wide in-service on the laws and customs of Passover, to ensure our entire staff know how best to support and care for the residents during the Passover holiday.
Cleaning day at the Wilf Campus, usually 3-4 days before Passover, is a full-day job. We scrub and kasher both kitchens, the dining rooms and all other eating areas from top to bottom. Then we replace all existing food items with Kosher-for-Passover products, and we exchange hundreds of dishes from our regular stock with our Kosher-for-Passover dishes. And all of this goes on while we continue to cater every day for our residents. We also have a special ceremony to burn the chamutz. All this culminates with two beautiful Passover Seders and services for the holiday.
To give you an idea of just how much food is involved, here are just some of the biggest items we order for Passover:
- 90 boxes of Matzah (6 cases, with a total of 720 pieces)
- 2 cases of shemurah matzah
- 40 pounds of round matzah
- 90 dozen eggs plus liquid eggs
- 40 pounds of gefilte fish
- 250 pounds of chicken
- 40 pounds of brisket
Happy Passover, from our family to yours!