Passover student survival Guide

UMD Student Passover Survival Guide

Help! It’s almost Passover!

While Passover is about freedom, and therefore probably shouldn’t elicit the same type of panic as a natural disaster, the most common reaction seems to be one of dread.

What do I need to do? How to do it? Where in UMD am I going to get all the things I need?

Well we’re here to help. Just follow these simple steps, and you’re good to go.

 ~ If you need a class exemption letter please let us know the class title, Teachers name, your name (known in class as…) and if an email or hard copy is needed. Contact us here ~

1) Clean your room!

First step is to get rid of your chametz — leavened food, their derivatives, and utensils. Basically, you want to clean your space of any foods not Kosher for Passover. Breads, pastas, cereals, cakes, pretzels, beer… those are just some of the things you’ll want to dispose of.

Spiritually, the leavened bread represents the negative character traits we may have allowed to accumulate over the course of the year. Bread is made of the same ingredients as Matzah — it’s just allowed to rise, to puff itself up with arrogance. Passover is freedom time — time to free ourselves of all that spiritual clutter, and clean ourselves just as we clean our rooms.

There are three easy ways to get rid of your chametz. Eat it, give it away, or put it in a designated closed closet and include it in the chametz sale (see below).

Also make sure to (finally!) properly clean your room and car, getting rid of any crumbs or food bits and pieces. Make sure to double check:

  •        In any of cupboards, drawers and other storage
  •        In your room under and around your bed
  •        Backpacks
  •        Luggage
  •        Clothing pockets
  •        Car
  •        Toothbrush – replace it, it’s probably time anyway.

Shared kitchens in houses and halls of residence present a host of challenges to prepare them for Passover, beyond the scope of this overview. Suffice it to say that your personal dishes/utensils need to be put away for the holiday and sold with your chametz (see below). Some cooking and eating utensils used for chametz may be cleaned thoroughly and Koshered appropriately.

2) Sell that stuff!

You’ve cleaned out your room. But you have a good bottle of whiskey/vodka/beer or a huge bag of pasta that you really don’t want to get rid of.

Or even if you have gotten rid of everything. There are still all those pots and pans, plates and cutlery that were used with chametz all year that are off limits for Passover.

And on Passover, we’re not just not allowed to eat chametz — we’re not even supposed to possess it!

Not to worry. For thousands of years, Jews have been utilizing a simple sale procedure — the offending foods or utensils are sold to a non-Jew for the duration of Passover. When Passover is done, we simply purchase the items back, and we’re back in business.

Caution! Don’t try this at home! Seriously, though you may have a non-Jewish housemate, there’s a very specific procedure to how this is done. Leave it to a trained professional. Simply fill out the form here authorizing Rabbi Backman to sell it for you, and put the chametz away in a closed, designated area (a particular closet or drawer, etc.). Please don’t leave it till last minute! Fill out the form by  midday Thursday March 29 . The last time one may eat chametz is Friday March 30, 11.06 AM, if any chametz is remaining it should be gotten rid of or stored away (as part of the chamez sale) by 12:11 PM.

3) Searching for Chametz:

A complete check for chametz should be performed on Thursday evening, March 29, after 8:17 PM. The procedure can be found here. (Note: a mobile phone flash light can substitute for a candle, where candles are forbidden.)

If you plan to leave your halls of residence or house before Pesach and intend to return during the latter days of Pesach, you should clean and search for chametz before you leave

4) Got Matzah?

Make sure to load up on plenty of Matzah for the eight days, as well as other Kosher for Passover delicacies.

We’ll be handing out special hand-baked Shmura Matzahs for the Seder nights. These special Matzahs are made in the same way Jews have been making them for centuries and are both delicious and meaningful. Contact us by email at If you’re interested in purchasing a few pounds of hand-made Matzahs, we can add it to our order. Just email us with the amount needed within the next couple of days.

The Matzah is called the “bread of faith” and the “bread of healing.” It represents the speed with which the Jews left Egypt — an expression of their complete faith in G-d that He would somehow provide for them in the wilderness. When we eat the Matzah today, we are part of that process of redemption. We, too, are expressing our faith — faith in the beauty of our tradition. Faith in our ability to be truly free. Faith in the ultimate ideal of redemption. And that faith heals us from the bitterness and cynicism of our normal, day to day lives.

5) They tried to kill us. They couldn’t. Let’s eat!

Most importantly, for Passover you’ll need lots of food. Food you can’t find in the halls of residence or other catered accommodations. The good news is, it’s here for you. Not only do we offer delicious and welcoming Seders, we’ll be offering food around campus for your convenience! Be in touch about times and locations!

6) Seder Nights

Some of you will be going home to join your families for the Seder nights. If for whatever reason you aren’t, we invite you to join ours.

Seder Nights this year are on Friday, March 30th and Shabbat, March 31st. We’ll be holding both Seders at the Chabad House. Our Seders are warm, friendly, and inspirational. (Not to mention delicious!) And all explanations and most reading are in English, making it easy for anyone to follow along. RSVP here and bring along a friend!

The Haggadah talks of the “four sons” — the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who doesn’t know how to ask. But the Lubavitcher Rebbe pointed out that there is something all four of those children share; they’re all at the Seder table. Today there is a fifth child, a child who may not even know that it’s Passover, a child who hasn’t made it to the Seder at all. Our job is to ensure that the fifth child is also engaged and inspired, that the fifth child, too, can partake of our shared heritage.

So as you make your Passover plans, think about the other Jewish students you come across. Whether you know them from various societies, flatmates or course mates, please make sure to share our invitation to the Seder with them too.

Let’s make sure this is the year when there are no “fifth children,” when every Jew we can reach becomes an active participant in the eternal message of Passover, the holiday of liberation and redemption.  Enjoy this theme in a video

6) Chol Hamoed

Chol Hamoed are the days which are in between the first and last day of Pesach. they are from Monday April 02 until Thursday April 05. On these days everything like a regular week day can be done except of course purchasing and eating chametz.

7) Last days of Pesach

You are more than welcome to join us for any or all of the meals during the last days of Pesach which start on Thursday night April 05 through Shabbat April 07. Pesach culminates with the traditional Moshiach feast where we drink 4 cups of wine, eat delicious food, sing songs and hear stories and inspirational words of wisdom.