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Jews perform Passover ritual

india Updated: Apr 08, 2009 01:15 IST
Naomi Canton
Naomi Canton
Hindustan Times
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Jews across the city have been spending the past few days purifying utensils in their homes for Passover, which starts on Wednesday.

According to Jewish tradition all traces of ferment have to be removed as a way of commemorating the Israelites fleeing slavery in Eygpt, when there was no time to let their bread rise.

They must also possess a special set utensils for exclusive use during the eight-day festival or kosher (purify) all their vessels of any leavened product before it starts.

At the Evelyn Peters Jewish Community Centre in Mumbai on Tuesday, the kitchen was stacked high with hundreds of metal tiffin boxes, pots and pans ready to be purified according to the Hagalah ritual. Tiffins prepared in the kitchen are sent to 50 elderly Jews everyday.

“We have to relive the Book of Exodus and behave like we are leaving Egypt and it’s all happening again. Purifying our homes of all ferment is one of the major criteria of doing that,” said Elijah Jacob, country manager of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which runs the centre.

In the kitchen, assistant manager Solomon Charikar (51) stood next to two steaming metal vessels. He recited a prayer and then dropped three hot bricks, causing the boiling water to splash over his trousers.

“We have to purify the vessel we are going to dip the utensils in. To do that we have to clean the brim by letting the water boil over,” he said.

He used metal tongs to pick a pan, dropped it into the boiling water three times, and then dropped it in cold water.

“This will go on for hours,” he added. “I enjoy it. This is what makes Passover so special. Yes, boiling water hit me, but that is part of it — it is part of our religion.”