As people begin preparing for Passover, many are finding that the traditions are changing.
The easy availability of a variety of kosher for Passover products means you don’t have to do as much cooking – or spend as much time cleaning. Or that you don’t have to go to a hotel to feed a large crowd for the Seders.
Jacob Jacob, who owns Jacob’s Classic Market at 900 Silks Run in Aventura, said, “There are now well over thousands of different items. Peasach has become easier than ever before, a chometz item is replaceable and it facilitates our lives to be as normal as possible.
During Passover, which begins at sundown April 18, many Jews observe the Biblical injunction to abstain from leavened foods throughout the eight-day festival. They rid their homes of any foods containing wheat and take care to eat only those prepared for Passover.
For many, this means throwing out all the food in the house and starting fresh.
Preparations can begin weeks in advance.
Aliza Bixon is the wife of Beth Israel of Miami Beach Rabbi, Rabbi Donald Bixon and said, "It is hard to describe the work because it is all encompassing! Cleaning, emptying, shopping, restocking, cooking, baking, serving, cleaning, ...it's exhausting to type it let alone do it! It is much easier to get Kosher for Passover products these days. I even bought sorbet at The Frieze on Lincoln Road."
For many years, families simply did without many everyday foods and treats. Gone were the Frosted Flakes and Oreos and wheat products like pizza. But now there are tasty substitutes – like Barton’s chocolate Seder mints, kosher potato chips, even sophisticated versions of matzah pizza.
You have more than just kosher salt to use as a seasoning, with several varieties of kosher for Passover barbecue sauce, myriad seasonings and gourmet dipping sauces.
The malaga wine at the Seder has been replaced with high-quality cabernet and merlot.
Besides the well-stocked local stores like Jacob’s, you can also find a variety of Passover items online, including plague puppets and toys, Kiddush fountains to pour the four cups of wine, and themed paper plates.
You can also order authentic “homemade” or packaged food items from mega stores in New York like Eichler’s Judaica or Glatt Boys and have them shipped to you in South Florida. (On a trip to Brooklyn, you can complete your Passover shopping in one afternoon).
It is expensive, though less so than in years past. However, with the recession, many shoppers are looking for bargains.
“We noticed that everyone is on a budget and are shopping around for the best values. In Passover, most consumers re stock their entire house from square one so (costs) accumulate and can average on month’s crocery bill,” said Jacob, who adds staff for the busy season.
Shoppers come in with detailed lists and shopping plans to compare prices, he said.
Many still want to make everything from scratch.
Hasidic Jews, who stay closer to the traditions, will be at the local farmer’s markets buying fresh produce and eggs to make their own ketchup and mayonnaise. For them, there will be no candy or cake, no special run for Passover Coca-Cola. Their Seders will feature homemade items and no processed additives.
Some wonder whether all of these innovations and technological advances have robbed the holiday of some of its authenticity.
"I don't think it takes away from the authenticity, because we still have our recipes and traditions handed down from those who came before us. These conveniences help enhance our holiday, and ease the preparations for all of us," Bixon said.
Bring on the Passover croutons.