It is quite fascinating how Jewish tradition and customs have such a strong effect on home design, both in Israel and around the world. Aside from the obvious: the impact that keeping Shabbat has; the location and size of the sukkah and its distance from the kitchen; planning a dining room to accommodate major Shabbat and holiday meals, sheva brachot, etc., the event that really takes the cake is Pesach (Passover)!
A well-designed home can significantly ease Pesach preparations. When purchasing or renovating your property in Israel, here are some important factors to consider:
1. The Pesach kitchen in Israel: does it even exist?
The first thing on most homemakers’ Pesach wish list is a Pesach kitchen. Unfortunately, there are few homes in Israel that have the space for this luxury.
2. Upper kitchen cabinets: the sky’s the limit!
Another popular wish is for upper cabinets that reach the ceiling for Pesach storage. The downsides here are: 1. this solution dictates getting up on a ladder and switching your cabinet contents, 2. cabinets to the ceiling will often add to the cost of the kitchen (depending on your ceiling height), and 3 they might also cramp the kitchen visually. These factors might put into question the wisdom of cupboards to the ceiling. And, as long as you have to get up on a ladder and schlep the Pesach gear, why not keep it in a storage area elsewhere in the house?
3. A Pesach cupboard in Israel: What more do you need?
If you have one dedicated storage unit located at a conveniently accessible height, you don’t necessarily need to unload and reload your cupboards. And if there is no room for this unit in the kitchen proper, a good solution can be to have it in an adjacent service area such as a utility porch, or integrated into the design of a unit in the dining room. But no matter what solution you come up with, a suggestion is that a conveniently located cupboard that helps you avoid “changing over” should be a priority.
4. Kashering in the 21st Century
Another major time-consumer in Pesach preparations is kashering and it is appropriate to address the issue of practicality in choosing materials and appliances available in Israel.
Sinks & Countertops – Most halakhic authorities allow for the kashering of stainless steel. That’s one reason why this material is such a popular choice for sinks in observant homes. However, there are those who avoid choosing stainless as the water in Israel has a high mineral content and stainless will show spots more readily than other materials. If that’s a problem for you, why not think about a water treatment system for your entire home. This will allow you to have the convenience of stainless, and, as an added advantage, your skin, clothing, washer and dishwasher will last longer. And if we’re talking about stainless and the convenience of its “kasherability”, why not opt for stainless counters in at least part of your kitchen such as the sink area or island?
Granite counters are also considered to be kasherable by most authorities but with the advent of quartz composite counters, (Caesarstone, Silestone, Zodiaq) the question of their kasherability has also come up. Caesarstone Israel will provide you with a Kosher for Pesach rabbinic certificate accordingly.
Ovens – Kashering the oven has always been time-consuming. Many rabbinic authorities in Israel approve of using the oven for Pesach if it has been cleaned and then run through the self-cleaning cycle. However, when buying your oven, make sure that you’re okay with the self-cleaning system — ask if it’s catalytic or pyrolitic.
As with everything else in home design, a little advance planning can go a long way in making your Pesach preparations in Israel that much easier.
Readers are advised to obtain advice from halakhic authorities.