When my aunt first shopped for Pesach after making aliyah, she was excited by the huge assortment of kosher for Passover products. When Pesach was over, she learned that all those products contained kitniyot (legumes), which Ashkenazi (European) Jews avoid on Pesach. Israel has a much larger kitniyot-eating population, especially when you consider that most Ashkenazim eat them, even if they keep Pesach.
The best way to avoid the kitniyot issue is to shop at a haredi supermarket. The prices tend to be low, kitniyot are carefully labeled and kept apart, and you can get everything you could possibly need in one stop including kitchenware, clothes, small appliances and even shoes. Produce is usually cheaper in the shuk, but not always. Last year the store I frequent sold a 10-kg bag of potatoes for NIS 20, definitely a good price if you can use that much. My handy-dandy list says we ate 23 kilograms of potatoes last Pesach. You can buy hand shmura matzah there too, by the kilogram or in a box of three. At some point we decided that nostalgia did not justify the price of the hand shmura, so we’ve gone over to machine shmura for the seder.
The problem with the haredi chains, compared to US Pesach shopping, is that they are much stricter about kitniyot. Many Ashkenazi rabbis allow cottonseed oil (and the OU certainly did when I lived in the US) but here it is labeled as kitniyot. Gradually we have become comfortable serving food made with some products labeled “only for kitniyot eaters.” We eat canola oil as well as some products that clearly have a minute amount of kitniyot, if any.
In the US, the OU publishes a list of products considered kosher for Passover, even without a special stamp (Domino sugar comes to mind). No such list exists here. Other than wine and a few canned goods say kosher for Passover all year, but you need to wait until about two weeks before the holiday. Then the stores turn over their stock. Of course, the sugar is almost certainly okay either way.
One thing I love about Israel is that the country celebrates every holiday together. People avoid scheduling meetings the week before Passover and the city supposedly gets cleaned up. But shopping before Rosh Hashanah and Pesach is a nightmare. You can find people waiting in line at one or two in the morning. One memorable year I brought my 6-month-old and 2-year-old to the store for Pesach shopping. I waited for three hours while my kids terrorized the store. The toddler was fascinated with operating the store’s freezer switch, set right at his level. So for many years my husband has taken half a day off of work so we can go together. Last year (2011), I got up from shiva a week before the holiday, and my friend offered to take two of my kids. They took care of the list and the store delivered the goods to our house.
As I posted earlier, I like to shop about a week before the holiday. It starts to get crowded then but the shelves are well-stocked. We inevitably need to get something at another store.
If you’re new here and you find preparation for Passover difficult, keep in mind that your reward will come when you can go to sleep on the second night of the holiday instead of taking out that seder plate once again.
Related post: Number one reason to make aliyah
The Pesach Problem. I should have called this one, “Why Only a Man Would Write that It’s Possible to Make Pesach in Four Hours.”
29th Kosher Cooking Carnival (Passover recipes)
More Passover Recipes and Cooking Tips at CookingManager.Com.