Preparing for Pesach ... Laniado style
Getting a medical centre ready for Pesach isn’t a simple matter – particularly for a hospital like Laniado which adheres to the most stringent standards of kashrut.
Staff members discuss the extensive preparations for the holiday as well as the Pesach Seder, which is conducted in every one of the hospital’s departments. Anyone who enters the doors of Laniado Hospital during the last week would feel certain that a massive drill was taking place. At a second glance, it is revealed that the reason for all the commotion is the mass Pesach Clean.
'Operation Pesach' includes cleaning the hallways and rooms, polishing the beds, closets and chairs, meticulously cleaning the kitchens and replacing all the utensils with Pesach equipment. The ovens are switched for special ovens used only for Pesach. The yearly operation is complicated and challenging. “There are dozens of rooms in every department with over 400 hospitalized patients,” Yossi Maayan, Director of Housekeeping explained. “The hospital encompasses a number of large buildings. We start working the day after Purim, employing additional staff to help with the cleaning. Every closet and bed is scrubbed thoroughly and closets are covered with clean paper. Only after the team has completed its work is a sticker saying ‘Kosher for Passover’ affixed to the room".
Rabbi Greenstein who is the spiritual advisor to the hospital notes that Laniado Hospital is the only medical institution in the world where the matzoth provided are all handmade. This was as directed by the founder The Klausenberger Rebbe ztz”l. During Pesach, the food is upgraded and includes various types of meats and cakes throughout the day and a variety of drinks are served in great abundance under the close supervision of the hospital’s dietician, to ensure that the menu is tailored to the needs of each patient and his/her specific requirements. Preparations are made to ensure that no chametz is inadvertently brought in. No food except whole fruit or water may be brought into the hospital grounds during Pesach. Tables in every department are elegantly set up with the finest dishes and linens and flowers, creating a holiday atmosphere. Patients who are bedridden or wheelchair-bound are wheeled in so everyone can participate in a Seder. At the Seder itself, the entire medical centre is sparkling and shining and has a festive aura. The recital of the Haggadah and of Mah Nishtana is heard from every direction. “This is a very special and spiritual night," says Rabbi Greenstein. “Great thought and effort go into its planning so that the patients and their families enjoy an experience just like at home.”
In every department a yeshiva student is responsible for conducting the Seder. “I conduct the Seder in one of the departments,” says Rabbi Greenstein, “and I can tell you that the experience uplifts me and empowers me every time anew. We read the Haggaddah together with the patients and their families, drink the four cups of wine, and eat the matzoth, while the patients contribute their own thoughts and stories, share commentaries and their own personal touch. It’s no wonder that we sometimes don’t finish reading the Haggadah until the early hours of the morning." He also notes that the Seder has added value, since non-religious patients invariably begin to reminisce about their childhood Pesach memories and ask questions. "We do not wish for anyone to be hospitalized during Passover,” concludes Rabbi Greenstein , "but when it happens, we do everything possible to ensure that the experience is the best possible, in terms of kashruth, dining and atmosphere, so that everyone enjoys a kosher – and most importantly – happy Pesach."