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What are "Kitniyot"?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » Passover » Chametz | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Kitniyot are legumes and other grain-like substances such as rice and corn. 

The medieval Jewish sages placed a ban on eating Kitniyot on Passover because they are similar in texture to Chametz (even bread can be made out of their flour), and people might assume that if, for example, corn bread can be eaten on Passover, wheat or rye bread can be eaten too.  This injunction was accepted by Ashkenazi Jews, but many Sephardic Jews continue to eat Kitniyot on Passover.

Go to for a list of Kitniyot food items.

If you are Sephardic, you need to check with a rabbi of your community, Moroccan, Syrian, Iranian, etc., to find out the exact customs of your ancestors.


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Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
(pl. Ashkenazim). A Jew of Northern or Eastern European ancestry.
Various legumes and grain-like substances. The medieval sages banned eating kitniyot during the holiday of Passover because it resembles Chametz (leavened grain products) which is Biblically forbidden during this holiday.
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.