What started out some 35 years ago as an 8 ½” x 14” folded sheet of paper, listing a Pesach halacha hotline and the shiurim of foods and wine for the Pesach Seder has grown over the years to become an 88-page full-color Pesach guide filled with important Yom Tov and community information.
Taking into consideration its humble beginnings and where it is holding now, the Agudath Israel of Illinois Pesach Guide is symbolic of the growth over the years of the ever-growing list of community Pesach services offered by Agudath Israel of Illinois.
Each year, these services benefit thousands of local families and individuals throughout the greater Chicago Jewish community. They currently include pre-Yom Tov food distribution through the organization’s KIWI-KIDS city-wide lunch program and maos chittim of Chicago, which helps close to 500 families each year before Pesach and Rosh Hashanah.
Pre-Pesach halacha classes for men and women cover everything from the Sedorim to kashrus issues. There is a community shaimos collection as part of a year-round shaimos initiative, which results in the proper genizah of tons of shaimos generated by families, schools and mosdos. Last year’s collection required two 18 wheelers to deliver the shaimos to its burial site. Other services include community document shredding and, new for this year, electronic recycling.
There are two nights of hagalas keilim; Shabbos Hagadol drashos for men and women; Pesach Halacha services of the Midwest Bais Hora’ah under the auspices of Dayan Shmuel Fuerst; sanitation department pre-Pesach garbage removal for two wards of the city with large Jewish populations; and communal bi’ur chometz at two locations.
The aforementioned Pesach Guide is mailed out to over 3,000 people and has another 1,000 complimentary copies distributed to Jewish stores throughout the city and suburbs. Some of the guide’s features include Agudath Israel Pesach services information; halacha articles about Yom Tov, Chol Hamoed, tevilas keilim and which brachos to make on animals at the zoo; Yom Tov recipes, divrei Torah, Pesach-related articles, Chol Hamoed venues, a Sefiras Ha’omer chart, and numerous lists and other important information.