The infamous Jewish holiday of Passover is nearing and for many secular jews, this is signaled by the abundance of items labeled Kosher for Passover and pink cartons of Manischewitz matzohs.
While the holiday is never a surprise when it occurs every spring, this year’s Passover items were a little different from what I’ve seen before. This year, a box of matzohs was $6.99 – and Jews are required to eat it as a substitute for bread and other food items that rise with yeast.
According to Jewish law, all foods consumed by Jews during the holiday week must be checked and confirmed by the rabbinate that it is safe for consumption – safe, meaning it contains no traces of chametz, or foods that are forbidden during Passover.
Items that are specially marked as Kosher for Passover are sold at much higher prices than when the same item is sold when it is not Passover. This is called price gouging, an economic term used to describe the raising of prices on items that are necessary for consumers.
Producers may claim that these prices are increased to reflect the higher cost of producing foods that are Kosher for Passover, including cleaning, rabbinical supervision, and alternative packaging.
That may be part of it, but I have a hunch that producers are taking advantage of the respect people have for the holiday and exploiting the tradition of commemorating the freeing of Jews from Egyptian exploitation.
Ironic, isn’t it?