Passover is both a time of liberation and a time of experiencing constriction. An important component of the practice of Passover is the observance of food restrictions that help us remember slavery and exodus.
We avoid chametz (leavened products made with barley, rye, oats, wheat, or spelt) The only bread served will be matzah (unleavened bread) and there will be no beer or grain-based alcohol and nothing that contains vinegar.
There is an Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) custom to not eat kitniyot (grains, seeds, and legumes) on Passover. (Learn more about kitniyot below.)
Yet, Sephardic Jews, and many of our community, do have the practice of eating kitniyot on Passover. So, eating kitniyot is not, in itself, prohibited, but a custom that some hold.
We will cook certain dishes with kitniyot and serve these dishes in a specially designated area so each participant can make a personal choice about whether to eat kitniyot. This area will serve as a place to learn, discuss, and wrestle with the tradition with information and other ways to dive into the lived tradition of Judaism.
If you want to get involved with this adventure, have ideas about kitniyot or have any other suggestions or questions, please do not hesitate to email us before the festival (by Thursday, April 2) or let us know onsite!
More on kitniyot:
Kitniyot are grains, legumes, and seeds such as rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, beans, soy, green beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and mustard seeds that are traditionally not eaten by Ashkenazi Jews because of a prohibition set in the 13th century.
The prohibition on kitniyot relates to the practice of storing kitniyot in the same vessels and containers as chametz (the five forbidden leavened grains) or the potential to confuse products made with kitniyot for products made with chametz, which was a real problem back in the 13th century.
While this mixing is not such an issue with today’s food, it’s traditional for some to avoid kitniyot, but many choose to consciously include kitniyot in their diet during Passover. Still, for everyone in our community, our kitniyot table may serve as an opportunity for all to share in engaging with this tradition.
If you wish to bring and eat any foods that are not part of the Passover diet, please take care of yourself while respecting the needs of people observing the holiday’s dietary laws. It’s very important that you do not bring these foods into the kitchen area.