Jewish community prepares for Passover

From the Star Democrat, Easton, April 3, 2015


Hyman, Johnson

Rabbi Peter E. Hyman, right, of Temple B’Nai Israel in Easton, prepares for Passover by selling chametz to Bishop Joel M. Johnson of the Anglican Diocese of the Chesapeake.

EASTON — Rabbi Peter E. Hyman of Temple B’Nai Israel in Easton, on behalf of the entire Jewish community in Easton and Talbot County, prepared for Passover by selling to Bishop Joel M. Johnson, leader, of the Anglican Diocese of the Chesapeake food items known as chametz on Wednesday, April 1.

Passover begins Friday, April 3, and according to Hyman, members of the Jewish community should not have or possess in their households any leavening based on the laws of the holiday. A leavening agent, or raising agent, is a substance used to produce fermentation in dough or batter.

It is customary in the Jewish tradition for the rabbi, as head of the Jewish community in an area or region, to sell the chametz to one of the leading representatives of the general community. The transaction is a legal transaction, with the rabbi and the representative of the other party signing an official document authenticating the sale and exchanging currency, in this case $1.

According to Hyman, the food category of chametz, in the tradition of the European Jewish community called the Ashkenazi community, consists of items like crackers, cake and legumes, including garbanzo beans and peas.

Johnson said with the addition of new grains like quinoa, questions arise as to whether or not the grain is kosher for Passover. Hyman said the answers lie in how the grain is processed, boxed and shipped. If the grain is harvested or processed in a plant with wheat, the grain is not kosher for Passover. If it is harvested by itself, it remains consumable.

Hyman said an interesting question he received was whether gluten – free matzo balls are kosher. After some research, Hyman said gluten – free matzo balls are typically made with tapioca, which would render them technically not real matzo. The officially sanctioned grains contained in traditional matzo are wheat, spelt, barley, oats and rye.