As the only food pantry in the Pittsburgh region that serves clients who keep kosher, JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry serves more than 200 families who are about to celebrate Passover.
Passover is an important holiday that marks the history of the Jews leaving Egypt, and along with all the feasting and storytelling come very precise preparation rituals.
As there was no time to pause in their journey to “let the bread rise,” no leavened food, or “chametz,” is consumed during Passover. And even the kosher food must be “Kosher for Passover.”
The Pantry is prepared for Passover under the guidance of Rabbi Itkin. Kosher for Passover foods will be gathered in a separate place, away from all the other food. Even the “kosher chametz”section of the pantry is shut down during Passover week. As is customary, Rabbi Itkin sells all the chametz. The Pantry takes these customs seriously; clients who get food from the Pantry can be sure that no step in the process has been overlooked.
While the Pantry is preparing for Passover – our families are doing the same at home, ridding the house of all chametz. When their kitchen is ready, they traditionally buy all new Kosher for Passover food. Most families will host 8 or more holiday meals, including two Seders. Passover can be expensive; families can spend an additional $200/person over the holiday.
The Pantry spends about $17,000 restocking with “Kosher for Passover” food, including this year a special grant to buy “Kosher for Passover” chocolate.
Passover is an eight day holiday! As the Pantry’s resources can only cover the basics of Seder meals, this time of year many Jewish schools and congregations hold food drives for “Kosher for Passover” foods. The Pantry welcomes these food drives; they provide many of the “trimmings” for the Seder. “Kosher for Passover” food drive collections can be dropped off at the Pantry during regular business hours (9:00 am – 4:00 pm).