The Forward: If Men Cleaned For Passover

The-Jewish-Daily-Forward-logo-alt-bl A friend of mine recently suggested that if men nursed babies, there would be no more endless debate among parents about breast versus bottle. Everyone would do what was best for them and their families without guilt, criticism and second guessing.
This made me think about other possibilities. What if men were in charge of Passover cleaning, for example?
In the Long Island Orthodox home where I was raised, Passover cleaning started a month before the holiday. We removed all the books from the shelves and shook them in case a crumb had clung to the pages. Clothing, rugs, windows, desktops, mirrors, cars, garages, bathrooms, the dust that gathered above the closets – all of this got a good scrubbing.
If you’re not weary yet, wait for it because we haven’t gotten to the epicenter. The kitchen is where the party really started. We emptied kitchen cabinets, cleaned them and covered them with new lining. In the days leading up to the seder, we removed plates and silverware from the kitchen and replaced them with Passover sets, along with pots, pans, dish towels, tablecloths, can openers, peelers, whisks and garlic presses that were waiting in a basement closet all year. We cleaned sinks and ovens with boiling water and cleanser. We emptied the refrigerator – everything had to go because if its proximity to chametz – and then lined the shelves to ready it for newly-purchased food, condiments and drinks.
When I say “we” of course I am referring to my mother. My father and my siblings helped her but about 90 percent of the cleaning fell on her shoulders. Other observant homes in our community were similarly beset by the Passover season, its women engulfed by Clorax. Betty Friedan may have left her mark on some of the homes for the other eleven months of the year, but once Springtime came around, the women returned to their domestic domains. If you happened to be a toddler who enjoyed walking around the house with a cookie, you were definitely out of luck.

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