Prepared food for Pessah means big dough for this firm

Just a week after Purim, the question of what to do about Pessah is already on many people's minds- including Shai Moyal's

By JACOB LEVINE
March 27, 2008 23:03
2 minute read.

Just a week after Purim, the question of what to do about Pessah is already on many people's minds. It's certainly on the mind of Shai Moyal of the Mevushelet company (mevushelet.co.il). The Mevo Horon prepared-foods firm is gearing up for an expected 25-30 percent rise in orders compared to last year. Moyal says his company is ready to ship its meals to any address in the country, including Eilat, tapping into a market he estimates generates some NIS 10 million. The market for prepared Pessah meals has grown exponentially over the past number of years, thanks to a growing exasperation within the religious community with the enormous chores of shopping and cooking for the seder. It is estimated that some 30% of religious households will choose to order ready-to-eat meals for this year's seder, which has the added difficulty of being a Saturday night, so that food for Shabbat and the holiday must all be ready by Friday afternoon. "I don't want to sit at my seder thinking how much I resent working for it," said Leah, a Jerusalem resident. "I want to focus my energies on entering Pessah happy and calm. After all, it's the 'Holiday of Freedom.'" Another important factor in ordering prepared food for Pessah is kashrut, which this year carries the additional factor of shmita. Mevushelet has entered into an agreement with the Otzar Ha'aretz organization to provide vegetables that bear the highest shmita supervision. Smaller competitor Kibbutz Sa'ad Catering (cateringsaad.co.il) provides vegetables that are heter mechira, which is a kashrut designation not accepted by some religious Jews. Ze'ev Biran of Kibbutz Sa'ad says he is concerned that some of his clientele might opt for more stringent shmita options this year, even though the rest of his menu is completely mehadrin, the highest standard. Most of the companies involved offer meals without kitniyot, or legumes, which are forbidden on Pessah according to most Ashkenazic and some Sephardic poskim, rabbis who rule on halachic issues. Another factor is matza sheruya, "soaked" matza, or as is known in Yiddish, gebruchts. Jews, mostly from hassidic backgrounds, who observe the custom of refraining from gebruchts during Passover must be careful to look for the label indicating that the meal is "not sheruya." Of course, the convenience of prepared meals comes at a price - often anywhere from NIS 85 to NIS 110 or more per person for premade meals. Those ordering gourmet dishes like tongue, or special menus such as "health" or "kids' meals," can expect to pay much more.


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