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To Eat or Not To Eat: Passover Food Guidelines

Reprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Written by editorial intern Michelle Goldberg.

March 31, 2011

created at: 2011-03-30

It's hard to keep track of what's kosher and what's not on Passover. No bread I understand, but what's this I hear about corn syrup? What rules apply to me? To make it easy, here is a concise guide to eating on Passover. 

During Passover, we are prohibited from eating foods that contain chametz. Chametz includes leavened bread, or anything else made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye.

Ashkenazic tradition also places kitniyot in the list of prohibited Passover foods. Rice, corn, soy, millet, beans, peas, and pretty much any other legume, or anything deriving from those products, like corn syrup, tofu, or soy oil, fall under this category. Similarly, seeds like mustard, sesame, and fennel are also avoided during Passover. Those lucky people who come from a Sephardic or Mizrachi background can eat all the kitniyot they want.

Of course, that puts peanuts in a funny place, since we think of them as nuts but they really are legumes. A recent push by Ashkenazic authorities has put peanut products on the not-to-eat list, while the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has permitted their use on Passover. I know, a bit confusing. As with other kitniyot, these prohibitions only apply to Jews of Ashkenazic heritage.

Finally, remember to look on products like matzah flour, juices, wine, oil, candy, and soda for the Kosher for Passover certification. That can help you be sure. 

As with just about every possible topic in Judaism, how to keep kosher for Passover has multiple valid opinions and approaches. We encourage you to speak with a Rabbi to learn more, to answer any questions, and to help find your Passover approach. 

This post is indebted to the Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide 5771 by Rabbi Barry Starr and the CJLS Kashrut Subcommittee.

Photo is under Creative Commons licenses; please click here for sources.

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Of the culture of Jews with family origins in Germany or Eastern Europe. Of the culture of Jews with family origins in Spain, Portugal or North Africa. Hebrew for "eastern," the term refers to Jews descended from the Jewish communities of the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus. The term Mizrahi is used in Israel in the language of politics, media and some social scientists for Jews from the Arab world and adjacent, primarily Muslim-majority countries. The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." Hebrew for "leavened," foods that are not kosher for Passover, such as bread and wheat-based products. It refers to products that are both made from one of five types of grain and have been combined with water and left to stand raw (rise) for longer than eighteen minutes. Hebrew for "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the Jewish dietary laws. Hebrew word for an unleavened bread, traditionally eaten during the holiday of Passover. Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation.
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