What’s Kosher for Passover in Israel?

The Jewish Daily Forward reports that this upcoming Passover sees more Ashkenazi Jews abandoning the traditional ban against kitniyot – legumes and other foods which are said to resemble chametz (leavened bread). Some rabbinic authorities have suggested that this is an unnecessary stringency in Israel, where the custom is not indigenous, while others feel it is important for people to maintain their ancestors’ customs. Rabbi Donniel Hartman (who eats kitniyot derivates but not the kitniyot themselves) has an interesting sociological perspective on this issue:

The “disintegration of the divide between Ashkenazi and Sephardi” will play a significant part, Hartman said. Already there is “not a single family in the country without a Sephardi member,” and Sephardim are more influential than ever in national culture. He stressed that this development will be a result of Ashkenazic-Sephardic mixing in Israel and will not affect practice in the Diaspora.

It remains to be seen whether the growth of marriages between Sephardim and Ashkenazim will affect customs in Israel. There are many other areas where Sephardim and Ashkenazim differ in customs and law. The idea that all Israelis should pray from the same prayerbook failed, as most people wanted to stick to their ancestors’ customs. Of course, printers are happy to print up as many quantities of each type of prayerbook, but food manufacturers find it much easier to cater to the Sephardic customers. This enables them to make more Kosher for Passover food at a cheaper price. The frustration of Ashkenazi Jews may not be the prohibition itself, but rather all the supermarket shelves filled with delicacies they cannot eat.

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2 Comments on “What’s Kosher for Passover in Israel?”

  1. Meir Rabi Says:

    The way to the heart is through the stomach; is true of human nature no matter how the human is dressed.

    The origin of the custom of not using Kitniyot on Pesach was driven by the hunger to be loyal to Gd when there was a real risk that using Kitniyot may lead to using Chamets. Today, the loyalty is to traditions, there is no longer any real risk of thereby using Chamets.

  2. Hadassah Says:

    Modern Judaism puts a pretty big emphasis on tradition…


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