Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About **Kitniyot…But were afraid to ask
Written by Rabbi David Russo
Do I Get to Eat Kitniyot on Pesach – Why or Why not?
Depends on your heritage. Traditionally, for those coming from Ashkenazi (Jews who descend from largely Central and Eastern Europe) lineage, kitniyot are totally forbidden on Pesach. For those of Sephardi (Jews who descend from largely Spain and North Africa) lineage, it’s kosher.
Centuries ago Ashkenazim were so concerned about how closely kitniyot resembled hametz they might mix, so they prohibited them all together. Sephardim, on the other hand, do not share those concerns, and are pretty chill about this holiday.
What are Kitniyot?
The word kitniyot comes from the Hebrew word katan, or “little”. These foods include beans, corn, millet, peas, rice, soy, and some other plant-based foods like mustard, buckwheat and sesame seeds.
In 2015, the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) passed a rabbinic responsum permitting the consumption of kitniyot on Pesach for Ashkenazim, but we are still stressed. Now we stress the importance of derekh eretz or common decency. Common decency is the guiding value for conversations on this topic, and encourages all decision-making parties to be transparent in their policies and menus, as well as sensitive to the spiritual and dietary needs of others.
For Further Reading:
The Rabbinical Assembly Pesach Guide
A Teshuvah Permitting Ashkenazim to Eat Kitniyot on Pesah, by Amy Levin and Avram Israel Reisner
Examples of Kitniyot for your viewing pleasure:
Cream cheese and lox – it’s not a bagel, but it’ll do!
The perfect accompaniment to a viewing of Prince of Egypt
Or, if you prefer, matzah brie: Nutella edition
Hummus and Tahini
Because no Jewish household should be without them
For when you’ve had your fill of matzah balls
Matzah quesadilla, anyone?
Corn on the cob
Think about all the corn syrup you can now consume this holiday season!
Rabbi David Russo, Rabbi at Anshe Emet, was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He graduated from Toronto’s York University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, and completed his rabbinical studies and a Master’s degree in Talmud and Rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Rabbi Russo strives to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the Chicago community within the context of meaningful, traditional, and inspiring Jewish practice.
Contact Rabbi Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org | 773-868-5127.
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