Friday, June 02, 2023

Pesach 2023 has passed. I loved my two very different seder experiences this year and my end days were amazing because I enjoyed a rare three-day visit with my two grandchildren. As The Steve Miller Band sings, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” Fortunately, it didn’t entirely slip away because throughout the week, I made myself stay present and be in the moment. As a result, I have great memories. I always feel very fortunate to be able to make Pesach along with my husband and host family and friends. I accept that I need to work hard and lose sleep to make it all happen. Many years ago, shortly before Pesach, I was standing on a long line in Rite Aid in Highland Park. This Rite Aid is a bit unusual because it includes a wine and liquor section. A woman ahead of me was buying several bottles of kosher wine. Of course, this made total sense to me, but the non-Jewish gentleman in front of me asked why she was buying so much wine. Her explanation was a mix of complaints about the holiday and about how hard she has to work while her family doesn’t help. It was truly “TMI,” or too much information. Suddenly she turned to me and asked, “Don’t you hate this holiday?” Without hesitation, I told her it was one of my favorites. The conversation ended.

Granted Pesach 2024 is in the distant future, but let’s discuss ideas to keep in mind now, before beginning your next year’s Pesach prep. After that I will share my 3 ½-year-old granddaughter’s tip for getting ready in the morning.

The night the chag is over, I analyze and assess. I create a list of what to buy for next year. For instance, I might purge a worn-out kitchen tool and make a note to purchase that item. I take stock of what items I used that annoyed me and could be replaced, like the vegetable peeler with the head that swiveled as I scraped. I made a note to shop for a better-quality vegetable peeler. The benefit of buying items well before Pesach is we have time to tovil them. Avoiding last minute trips to the keylim mikveh is a real bonus. After you have created a list of items to buy, create a list of food items you will pack away for next year and will not need to buy, like salt and pepper which does not spoil. Tape your lists to an obvious place like the outside of a box of Pesach items, or inside a cabinet door or closet. The key is that these lists should be seen before you begin to shop, rather than after. In addition, consider including reminders about the clothes you want to buy for your family or yourself, like, “Remember to buy favorite hosiery before Pesach.” That’s my way of saying I forgot and had to scrounge a little.

Perhaps only a dog owner knows that matzoh is unhealthy for dogs. Jewish dog owners can buy grain-free dog food from most specialty stores. Since it is harmful to most dogs’ digestions to change from one food to another all in one go, experts suggest adding the new variety of food in small increments while slowly reducing the old food. This takes time, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach, like Shepsi does. You may need time to try out a couple of brands. Also, rather than try to memorize the unacceptable ingredients, remember to bring along the OU’s or the Chaf K’s list of chometz ingredients contained in many brands of dog food. They may have funky names that sound quite innocent, like “groats” or “middlings.” Therefore, about a month before Pesach, set a reminder on your paper or virtual calendar to purchase grain-free dog food.

My next tip involves counting the Omer which, while it is not directly a part of Pesach, does begin during the chag, so including it is fair game. For those of us who want to count the Omer but have a sketchy rate of successfully making it to Shavuot, I recommend Chabad’s Omer Counter app found at Chabad.org or the Google Play Store. You can easily find the blessing in both Hebrew and transliteration and it also gives the English translations. It also explains the laws and customs surrounding counting the Omer, offers daily meditations and insights to the Omer and is free of charge. When I used it last year, I found it dependable and I thought the nightly reminder had a pleasant tone. If you should miss counting in the evening or if you counted but you didn’t note that you counted by clicking on the app, it will remind you in the morning to count without a bracha. I credit this tool with helping me succeed in my counting.

You are now well-armed with tips for knowing what you will and will not need for next year, what to feed your dog on Pesach and how to successfully count the Omer for all 49 days.

I promised you a tip for getting ready in the morning that I learned from my 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter. Racheli spreads out her clothes on the floor like she is dressing a giant paper doll. She puts down the skirt, pants or dress first, then she puts her tights or leggings underneath the first layer. If she is planning on wearing socks with bare legs, she leaves some room from the bottom of the skirt or dress and where the socks begin. Of course, she places the top over the skirt, pants or leggings. Shoes are optional in this presentation. This is an especially good tip for deciding if your outfit works well together, before you even put it on. Racheli likes to sing as she gets dressed. Somebody somewhere probably did a study proving singing is a great way to start off anyone’s morning. Racheli recommends the song “Thank You Hashem.”

If I had more time before Pesach, I would of course reach out to more friends and clients, both current and from years past. Of course, even if I was super prepared and ahead of my game, it would not mean that the recipients of my calls and emails would be just as prepared and would have time to pause from their preparations to chat. I find this a comforting thought. If you didn’t hear from me, it doesn’t mean I was not thinking of you.

Now that Pesach has slipped into our past, you may be facing serious decluttering projects or a home move. I am prepared to help. Please give me a call for a free 30-minute phone consultation.

Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s Kosher Organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals”. See Ellen’s work on Instagram @ideclutterbyEllen. Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected]

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