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Published: Saturday, 4/19/2003

A cleansing ritual for Passover

Cantor James Gloth and sons Micah, 2, at left, and Avi, 4, search the house for leavened bread. Cantor James Gloth and sons Micah, 2, at left, and Avi, 4, search the house for leavened bread.

The home of Cantor James Gloth and his wife, Bina Carr, had been swept clean and readied for the start of Passover earlier this week, but one important task was left: making sure no trace of leavened bread remained in the house.

Cantor Gloth of Congregation B'nai Israel gathered the couple's sons, 4-year-old Avi and 2-year-old Micah, lit a candle, and began the ritual known as B'dikat Chametz (the search for leaven.)

Holding feathers and wooden spoons, the little group moved about the house Tuesday evening searching for 10 chunks of bread that had been “hidden.”

“I found it! I found it!” Avi cried as he spied the first piece of bread. From there, he easily found the others, which had been left on the piano, the fireplace hearth, the stairs, a table, and other spots in the house. His little brother followed behind as the adults in the room, including B'nai Israel's Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and the boys' grandfather, Richard Gloth, looked on.

“This one's for Micah,” Avi said, offering to let his little brother find one of the pieces for himself.

At each sighting, the bread was swept with a feather onto a wooden spoon and placed in a paper sack held by Cantor Gloth. Finally, the candle was extinguished and the spoons and feathers placed in the bag with the bread.

Cantor Gloth prayed in Hebrew, “May all leaven which is in my possession; which I have not observed, removed or had cognizance of, be regarded as null and be ownerless property, as the dust of the Earth.”

The prayer finished, he said, “Now, we burn it in the morning,” explaining that the bag would have to be burned by 11 a.m. the next day, the last time leaven could be eaten before Passover began Wednesday at sundown.

B'dikat Chametz is performed in Jewish homes before Passover to fulfill the commandments found in the 12th chapter of the Bible's book of Exodus, explained Rabbi Kamens, the interim

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