Passover Prep by the book and virtually

PHOTOS:  NCSY Oregon Director Meira Spivak, left, has written a book to help people get ready for Passover. Chef Michael Solomonov, right, will present a virtual cooking demonstration for the third holiday since COVID made virtual life normal.

Passover is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday in America; with COVID limiting travel and communal gatherings, many people are making Passover at their own home for first time.
From unaffiliated to observant, Passover seems to resonate. A 2013 Pew Research survey of Jewish Americans found that 70% said they had participated in a seder the previous year. 
 “Instead of flying home to parents for Pesach, many young couples will be making Passover for the first time,” says Oregon NCSY Director Meira Spivak, who has written a book titled How to make Pesach in 5 Days. “If you usually go to friend’s house for seder, this year you may be doing seder at home for the first time.”
Meira says she wrote the book both for those who find Pesach preparations stressful and exhausting, as well as those taking on the challenge for the first time. Even people who just make one seder for their family will find the book helpful, she says. “I made the recipes and meal planning really simple.” 
However, Meira says she used Pesach instead of Passover in the book’s title “because people who just do a seder would think it’s crazy to spend five days preparing. This (book) is in large part for people who do all the cooking and cleaning – people who overstress about entertaining and cooking and cleaning.”
Meira says people need to differentiate between spring cleaning with Pesach cleaning.
“If you spend a month doing spring cleaning, by the time it’s time to clean up chametz for Pesach, you’ll be exhausted,” she says. “If you start cleaning right after Purim, you will still have to clean chametz in the days before Passover.”
Her guidebook can help everyone from the novice to the balabusta complete the cleaning, shopping and cooking for the entire holiday in five days. 
She also emphasizes the importance of laughter.
“When you’re cooking and the kids come in and want to help and end up making mess, you can stress out or laugh,” she says. “If I can minimize stress and accept craziness and laugh, everyone is better off.”
Meira says she buys a lot of peelers so all her kids can feel they are helping. “If one child peels two carrots, that’s two less I have to peel,” she says, adding that she then laughs her way through cleaning carrot peels that are all over the sofa.
All proceeds from sales go to NCSY if purchased through 
Cost from NCSY is $18 including shipping. NCSY brings meaningful Jewish connections to students in third grade through college. About half of the 2,500 copies have been sold since they arrived in Portland from the printer in Israel Jan. 20.

Prepare for Passover – virtually

Passover begins at sundown March 27, 2021. The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland presents two online events to help people prepare for Passover during this unusual year.
March 14, 4 pm: Community Passover Session
No matter how you decide to gather this Passover, is here to help you do it with purpose, creativity and fun. This interactive session will share tools, tips and insights to help you host a meaningful (virtual) seder for the entire family.
This event is free. Sign up at
March 16, 5 pm: Chef Michael Solomonov Cooking Demonstration
Three-time James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov returns for a holiday hat trick. This will be the famed Israeli cookbook author and restaurateur’s third virtual visit to Portland to present a holiday cooking demonstration since the pandemic began. His Rosh Hashanah and Chanukah programs on Vimeo drew rave reviews. For Passover, he will show participants how to make Charoset and Mina with Ground Beef, Cardamom and Coffee.
Sign up for the free cooking class at


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