Why “Average” Haredi Families Go to Hotels for Pesach, Part I

messy-living-roomWhy “Average” Haredi Families Go to Hotels for Pesach, Part II

We received an advertising supplement from a travel agency catering to the haredi public called “Pesach Plus.” According to the supplement reservations for Passover hotels have increased this year. Despite the economic downturn, the message is that you don’t need to be wealthy to go to a hotel. “Average” haredi families go too.

I think I know why after reading Malki Lowinger’s Pesach cleaning schedule in last week’s Mishpacha, a magazine for haredi women. If this is standard, it’s no surprise so many decide to go away. My friend Shelley, who sent me the article, reported that Lowinger covered the loft and the garage in a previous issue. Since Shelley lives in an apartment like most Israelis, she figured she could relax. But relaxing is out this week, except in small increments.

My comments are in blue. Everybody ready? Let’s go!

  • Sunday. Closets and drawers should be done by now. [Houston, we have a problem.] Focus on the living area. Today, strip beds, vacuum mattresses, wash linens and dust ruffles. [That line reminds me of Amelia Bedelia.] Next, vacuum and clean under beds. Daily De-Stressor: Weather permitting, take a ten-minute walk around the block. Breathe in the fresh air. If weather doesn’t permit, exercise and energize yourself indoors. [Note to Lowinger: We just cleaned all the mattresses and floors and did several loads of laundry. We don’t need MORE exercise.]
  • Monday. Window day. Clean all windows and sills thoroughly. [Because you don’t want to miss the chametz.] If windows have alarms, disconnect the system while cleaning. Take down blinds soak in tub, then rehang. Wash all curtain, shades and window dressings thoroughly. Warning: Don’t take apart window treatments unless you’re sure you can rehang them properly. Daily De-Stressor: A cup of your favorite herbal tea. Inhale the aroma and take your time enjoying every sip. Use this downtime to call a friend, but keep your eyes on the clock. [No wasting time. The seder is only three weeks and one day away.]
  • Tuesday. Now’s the time to wrap up all areas in house aside from the kitchen, living room and dining area. If you have a den, home office, family room, laundry area, guest room, or playroom, clean thoroughly.[There’s that word again.] Daily De-Stressor: Do something that makes you feel good. A bath, a nap, a massage, a sheitel cut. Put on a pretty sweater or enjoy a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
  • Wednesday. Catch-up day. If you haven’t been able to complete the chores of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, here’s your second chance. [I’m torn between feeling insulted that I might not have kept up, and lost because I didn’t get detailed instructions.] Daily De-Stressor: For some it’s Lipa, for others Beethoven. Take a break during your cleaning to listen to a favorite, or keep the CD player on while you work. What a difference it will make! [My daughter wanted to know why Lowinger waited until Wednesday to suggest this.]
  • Thursday. Before Shabbos cooking, take inventory of everything in the cabinets, fridge and freezer. It’s time to use it up. Most of us have extra soups, cakes, desserts, pastas, cereals, mixes, sauces, and all kinds of chometzdike products. Work these into your Shabbos menu. [ALL of them?] When you finally tackle the kitchen, you’ll be glad you did. [I’m wondering what my family was supposed to eat on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Actually, I’m wondering where my family WAS on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.] Daily De-Stressor: Reading’s the all-time Great Escape. By now, you have probably received next week’s issue of Mishpacha. Put your feet up and enjoy your favorite column. [I can’t wait to read next week’s schedule.]
  • Friday: Congratulate yourself. You’ve accomplished a great deal this week. Finish your Shabbos prep and air out the house. After a week of cleaning, it’s time to let in some fresh air. Daily De-Stressor: Go out. A short visit to a local park, a lake, a favorite bookstore, will do wonders. [Just don’t forget to keep your eyes on the clock.]

Seriously, I doubt many women clean like this nowadays. Most women who don’t work and have a house with a garage and loft, window alarms, window treatments, and who get sheitel cuts on a whim, can afford hired help if they want a spotless house for Pesach. And the rest of us are either too young (with small children), too old, or too busy working to keep up this schedule.

Why “Average” Haredi Families Go to Hotels for Pesach, Part II

More Passover articles at A Mother in Israel:

The minimum (and it’s still not pretty): Pesach Crisis Cleaning

Passover Recipes and Cooking Tips via my Cooking Manager site

The Pesach Problem

CookingManager.Com: Helping home cooks save time and money in the kitchen.

Facebook Page for Cooking Manager with Pesach discussions

More Pesach ideas and tips.


  1. Thanks for the laugh!!!
    Your very important lessson here is that we need to keep our sense of humor intact during the next few weeks.

    This woman OBVIOUSLY doesn’t work outside the home.

  2. P.S. I linked you on my blog….

  3. I’m cracking up! This is very funny.
    Would you like to know how I’ve prepared for Pesach so far? I went grocery shopping, got ticked off because they have already started stocking Pesach products when the holiday is still 3 weeks away, and angrily dumped every chometz product I could find into my shopping cart in rebellion. I spent $70 more than I usually do, and my cabinets and freezer are now filled with chometz. Take that, Malki Lowinger!

  4. Ummmm…if it’s possible that there is chametz on my windows, what should I do if I have never cleaned my windows in preparation for Pesach? Do I have to fast? I’m 27 and have lived on my own for 9 years. So that is potentially 9 times that I have missed this chametz. Also, is window chametz covered when you sell your chametz to your Rabbi? If so, I might be covered for the last two.


  5. Fern, you never know when the chametz fairies might have dropped some crumbs on the window frames. And really, the glass might have some chametz molecules that might have broken down from some dust debris floating around (because, of course, dust is partly made up of some skin cells that drop off during the day- so maybe some fell off while you were eating a sandwich, so the dust might have some crumbs too- voila- that’s why you need to clean your windows for Pesach! Get crackin’!)

    Seriously, this was great fisking and reference to Amelia Bedilia! (Strip the beds, Amelia…), MII. But more importantly, I’d like to see a Rav gently respond to this nonsense and set the record straight about what you need to do for Pesach and what’s nice to do for spring cleaning.

  6. this was a great laugh! i basically deal with pesach by going into a full scale panic, talk about getting cleaning help, and then do nothing about cleaning or getting help. i love it when people tell me they started pesach cleaning – they did their clothing closets and windows. ummm, what does that have to do with chametz?

  7. Abbi — Chametz fairies?! Say it ain’t so!!!!

  8. Leah Peretz says

    She really is unrealistic demands.
    I haven’t even started yet and my daily chores (not talking about extra thorough cleaning) is taking up most of my morning with a still nursing baby at home.
    The afternoons are with 3 other small and active kids (6, 4, 3) around who don’t care if the house will become messy again because the maid (yours truly) will tidy it up, not?
    I guess I should clean in the evenings, but usually am so tired from the afternoon that i just want to relax…
    My house could really need a thorough spring cleaning but dust ain’t chametz b”h.

    • mominisrael says

      G6, humor is the only way to get through this! Thanks for the link.
      Raizy, you had better invite some guests this Shabbat to use up all the food. You would think the chametz stuff would go on sale.
      Fern, fasting is definitely in order. At a minimum. There’s no time to eat anyway.
      Abbi, that is real talmudic logic. I kept thinking of Amelia trying to dust the ruffle.
      Fern Chasida, I don’t like to be around those people.
      Leah, we’ll all get there one way or another.

  9. Fern and MII: Oh yes, I believe there is a mention of the chametz fairies and dust molecules in Pesachim 67: πŸ™‚

  10. AHHH!! She’s scaring me- seriously. This is my first year cleaning by myself, and well…
    I think it helps just to talk about it, and laugh. Laugh a lot.

  11. If she has already finished the bedrooms, family room and living room, where’s the family supposed to be until Pesach. Maybe they all have to strip when entering and wear special robes? And where can they eat chametz? I guess in the kitchen after stripping again and putting on chametz clothes…?

    Doesn’t it make more sense to go to the hotel for those three weeks before Pesach and then come home for the holiday?

  12. This is why I’m so frightened.

    To their credit several of my chareidi colleagues have announced more than once that “dust is not chametz”.

    But what about that chocolate bar wrapper I found behind my daughter’s bed????

  13. Well, I’m chareidi and the average chareidi person does NOT go away for Pesach. This year I got a LATE start, so I decided to NOT drive myself ragged, and let some dirt stay for NEXT year’s cleaning……

  14. i am laughing and also exhausted just by reading this list.
    oy vey!!!!

  15. Had me rolling all the way through. If you are going to finish in one week, why not the week before pesach and not 4 before.

  16. I agree your post is funny and the list is exhausting!

  17. LOL, and I too love the Amelia Bedelia reference!
    Let’s see – today is Monday, and so I guess I should be doing the windows. Question: Do the trissim count as blinds (and therefore need to be soaked in the tub), or do they count as shades (and therefore need to be washed thoroughly)?

  18. Uh, I did clean my car yesterday because the weather was fairly warm and not raining. I got some strange looks from passersby.

    And I cleaned my downstairs refrigerator, but I’m still using it for produce. Produce isn’t chametz — right?

    I’m trying to do some things in advance because I do 1) work full time 2) have some young kids as well as some older ones 3) no longer have cleaning help except a cranky spouse and some cranky teenagers

  19. mominisrael says

    You’ll manage fine. Just try to stay sensible.
    Batya–sounds like a good idea to me.
    Baila–why are you so frightened? You’ve done this before.
    Rickismom–You are above average!
    Phyllis–Oy vey is right!
    Mike–right, why kill yourself for four weeks instead of one?
    ID–writing the post made me feel better.
    Mrs. S. You’ll have to wait for the book I guess.
    Tesyaa–I have no problem with starting in advance! The problem is starting so early with the pressure.

  20. I can’t stop laughing.
    Now I have to decompress.

    • oh – so do I. All I did is pull out the Pesach file (okay, three-ring binder), and read this post. So why is it that I now want to eat my weight in chocolate?

      nothing like a chametz fairy to raise the blood pressure… Thanks for the antidote, M.i.I!

  21. I’m sorry but I have to say that you took the article out of context. I have a subscription to Mishpacha and I read it cover to cover every week. Each year they have a column geared to Pesach preparations. This years column includes a diary and some little notes about Pesach preparations. The diary may have been more down to earth. The column also includes a list of tasks to do. She tries to make it very down to earth although to some it may be somewhat commical. In past weeks she had already written about starting to clean out closets and cleaning the attic and basement. This magazine is geared towards charedim all over the world. Many people living abroad do have attics and basements so it isn’t so strange that she is writing this. If it doesn’t apply then adapt what she wrote to suit you. Maybe you have to clean your machsan rather than cleaning your basement.

    Now that’s I’ve sounded like I’ve defended the writer, I must say how I truly feel. Usually these columns make me feel extremely guilty that I’m not keeping up with the schedule. I tend to be a very last minute person and I don’t deal well with stress. Last year, I tried hard to keep up with the good ideas given in that author’s column. I had a hard time because I was also working. This year I’m working and have a newborn. I’ve made my own schedule. I know from last year that trying to work according to someone else’s schedule just doesn’t work.

    I don’t know how things are where everyone else lives but in my community, which isn’t charedi as I found out last year, many of the Israelis start cleaning way in advance. Don’t ask me what they’re doing. They finish about a week or so before Pesach. Then, when the whole family is off from school and maybe work, they go on vacation. This way they don’t have to take off vacation days at a different time in the year. They come back home for Pesach. I thought that it was an interesting way of doing things but certainly not what I was used to.

    Different people do things differently and what suits one may not suit another. To each their own.

  22. My goal in the weeks before pesach is to get all the dirty laundry done, wash the floors, and stop having food anywhere except the kitchen/dining room.

    Candy bar wrappers and stuff like that should get caught in the laundry/floor washing phase.

    Windows should be washed on tisha b’av. It will make you feel connected with the horban πŸ™‚

    Oh, and you should only flip the rug upside down to get the extra dust out if you plan on eating off of the back of the rug during pesach.

    Actually, to be honest, it *is* important not to eat off of the rug on Pesach, b/c there could be specks of food that are left even after vacuuming. As a result, I forgo the pleasure of eating off the carpet that week.

  23. Something Different says

    LOL. A number of people mentioned this post in comments on my post on the article, so I had to come check it out. I’m glad I did. It was great…
    I don’t see how the de-stressers come into the picture. This article was more of a distresser. πŸ˜‰

  24. A riot, MiI…

  25. That’s exactly why I’m so scared, mom.

  26. mominisrael says

    ON–glad you liked it.
    BB–I don’t think so. In earlier articles did she mention working women, small children, or apartments? The point of starting early is to avoid stress and overwork, and her schedule defeats the purpose. Of course we are always free to ignore advice, but hers isn’t good for anyone except for the smallest subset of people. The vacation phenomenon is because kids are out of school yet accommodations are relatively cheap.
    TC, good plan!
    Something Different: LOL about distress. Here is the link for my readers: http://ablobofsomethingdifferent.blogspot.com/2009/03/de-stresser-or-re-stresser.html
    Mimi, thanks.

  27. Ariella Brown says

    Great observactions, TrilCat.
    I did a post on only beginning Pesach preparation today. Look, I may get around to washing the dust ruffles (none on the bunk beds anyway) but I know that halacha does not require it. Women add unnecessary stress with such spring cleaning standards being presented as standards required for Pesach. I remember many, many years ago (I can count the decades now) when I was in Israel for the year, I met a woman who wrote an article in which she listed a whole bunch of these things and kept saying “do it for Shavuous.”

    And those people who think they are being extra machmir by leaving home altogether often err in the halacha. One is required to check that one’s home is free of chametz even if one is leaving as far as 30 days in advance. And the halacha is really about checking and clearing not organizing and cleaning.

  28. rachel in israel says

    most people do have attics (or a boidem if you are in Israel). The question is how many put chametz there. If a person is weird enough to take their chametz EVERYWHERE you can assume by now that the mie and cockoroaches (sp?) ate the attic chametz πŸ™‚

    I don’t clean the closets in our room because i never put chametz there, ditto for bathrooms, machsan, etc.

    If you live in a nice american house with plenty of space (as opposed to a 70 m^2 box like me) simple make a rule, no chametz in the rooms ever, then you just don’t hvae to worry about it.

  29. Thanks for the advice.
    Hope you don’t mind I linked to you- thanks!!

  30. rachel, do you have little kids? i have a five year old, three year old and a baby. the baby we can trust but the other two we can’t. we had a rule like that. it was very very hard to keep. even though my hubby and i don’t bring any chametz upstairs, we somehow ended up with 4 cheerios in our room. it’s a good thing we cleaned and didn’t just assume everything was okay because we don’t bring chametz into our room. although you said you don’t need to clean your closet, my kids often sit on the bottom of my closet. if they happen to have some food on their clothes somewhere and it gets deposited there then we’ll end up with food in our closet. my kids love cheerios and that’s why it’s so hard for us. i’m not crazy. i don’t go nuts but i do clean where it’s very likely that there will be chametz based on what my family eats and where they eat it.

  31. I cleaned like this the first year I kept Pesah. Once was enough. (and I suppose everyone should experience it once just to say you did it!) Needless to say my list got a lot shorter the following year when I started taking a class with our new Rav. Now that I have three toddlers my list just gets spread out a lot more.

  32. BB – that’s exactly why I vacuum/wash all the floors and make sure all the laundry is done.

    If you look around while you’re washing the floors, you should catch any stray cheerios.

    Clothes and bedclothes may have large, visible crumbs on them when you have a toddler (or a mom who has a particular thing for eating spaghetti in bed)

    From doing floors and laundry to washing windows… is a whole different ball of wax. Unless you plan to lick the windows…in which case you may want to avoid that during pesach.

  33. Hey! that was fun! lol. when are people going to understand that dirt and dust are not hametz??!!

  34. Laughing out loud, of course! But what are all you mamas doing on the Internet?? I don’t see that listed as a de-stressor… (if you have Vista, using the computer probably isn’t)

    But wait! Isn’t the Internet trayfe year round anyway? Kal v’chomer, one shouldn’t sully one’s fingers or thoughts at Pesach time… :-)))

  35. connie tobar says

    I read all this postings and most of them are very funny, even though i don’t understand Hebrew , i’m assuming it pertains to passover.

  36. Debbie (gingeet) says

    Thank you everyone for a great laugh! What a great way to start off the week! In my opinion it’s too early to be destressing/distressing over Pesach….so my remedy…out of site out of mind! For now, my head is in the sand! πŸ™‚


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