Kitniyot in the market

Kitniyot (Hebrew: קִטְנִיּוֹת, qitniyyot) is a Hebrew word meaning legumes.[1] During the Passover holiday, however, the word kitniyot (or kitniyos in some dialects) takes on a broader meaning to include grains and seeds such as rice, corn, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds, in addition to legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils.[2]

The Torah[3] prohibits Jews from eating chametz during Passover. Chametz is defined as leaven made from the "five species of grain" (wheat, barley, and three similar grains). Food made from any other species is not considered chametz. However, among Orthodox Ashkenazi and some Sephardic customs, the custom (minhag) during Passover is to refrain from not only products of the five grains but also other grains and legumes, known as kitniyot, even though they are not chametz.[4][5]


Traditions of what is considered kitniyot vary from community to community but generally include maize (American corn), as well as rice, peas, lentils, and beans. Many also include other legumes, such as peanuts and soy, in this prohibition.[6] The Chayei Adam considers potatoes not to be kitniyot because they were unknown in the time when the prohibition was created, an opinion followed today by nearly all Ashkenazi authorities.[7]

Some Sephardic and Yemenite Jews have not traditionally observed a prohibition on eating kitniyot on Passover, although some groups do abstain from the use of dried pulses during Passover.

Since wheat flour only becomes chametz after it is ground and then mixed with water, one might assume that the kitniyot custom does not forbid kitniyot that were never ground or never came in contact with water. By this logic, it might be permitted to eat fresh kitniyot (like whole beans), or processed kitniyot which never came in contact with water (like certain squeezed oils or toasted solids). In fact, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu stated that the "first Ashkenazim in Jerusalem before the establishment of the state allowed fresh legumes and only prohibited dry legumes, but when the students of the Vilna Gaon and Baal Shem Tov came to Israel, they ‘brought with them’ from Europe the prohibition against fresh legumes".[8] Conservative rabbis have ruled to permit fresh kitniyot.[9]

In the 1930s, Maxwell House coffee hired the Joseph Jacobs advertising firm to market to a Jewish demographic.[10][11] The agency hired a rabbi to research coffee, resulting in a determination that the coffee bean is more like a berry than a bean, thus making it kosher for Passover.[12][11]


The Halakhic argument (the argument according to Jewish law and tradition) against eating kitniyot during Passover originated in early medieval France and Provence and later flourished in high medieval Ashkenazi (Rhineland) Germany. Most rabbinic sources prior to the 13th century, including the writings of Rav Huna (3rd century), Rava (4th century), Rav Ashi (5th century), and Maimonides (11th century), explicitly allowed eating kitniyot during Passover.[13]

The original reasons behind the custom of not eating kitniyot during Passover are not clear. Suggestions include:

Even in the early days of the kitniyot prohibition, some poskim opposed it, among them Rabbenu Yerucham (14th century), who called it a "foolish custom", Jacob ben Asher (14th century), who called it "an unnecessary stringency", and Samuel ben Solomon of Falaise, one of the first to write about the custom the 13th century, who called it "mistaken".[23][24] [13]

More recently, rabbis including Rav Moshe Feinstein did not advocate abandoning the custom, but opposed expanding the list of forbidden kitniyot.[25]

In non-Orthodox Judaism

Although Reform and Conservative Ashkenazi Judaism currently allow for the consumption of kitniyot during Passover, long-standing tradition in these and other communities has been to abstain from their consumption.[26][27]

Reform Jewish authorities, such as the Responsa Committee of the Reform Jewish Movement, the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada, have ruled in favor of permitting kitniyot.[28][29] Reform Judaism first formally permitted eating kitniyot during Passover in the 19th century.[30]

While many Conservative Jews observe the tradition of avoiding kitniyot during Passover, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, an authoritative body in Conservative Judaism, issued two responsa in December 2015 that said it was now permissible to eat these previously prohibited foods throughout the world.[31][13][32] These responsa were based on a 1989 responsa by the Responsa Committee of the Israeli Conservative Movement that permitted Conservative Jews in Israel to eat kitniyot.[24] While eating kitniyot has become more common in Israel, due in large part to the influence of Sephardic Jewish food customs, it is not yet clear whether Conservative Jews in other parts of the world will embrace the new rulings or continue to refrain from kitniyot.[33][34]

Some rabbis, such as Orthodox rabbi David Bar-Hayim and Conservative rabbi David Golinkin, have argued that the prohibition of kitniyot, while appropriate in Eastern Europe where the Ashkenazi tradition began, should not apply to the United States or Israel.[23][24][35][36][37] According to The Forward, some Israelis are choosing a more permissive rabbinical interpretation of kitniyot, which allows for the consumption of a wider range of formerly banned items,[38][39] and some Ashkenazi Jews in Israel who are married to Sephardic Jews have adopted the Sephardic custom. While the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and other Orthodox organizations still maintain that the prohibition is binding on all Ashkenazic Jews worldwide,[40] Orthodox Union Kosher maintains a kitniyot hechsher intended for non-Ashkenazic Jews who consume kitniyot on Passover.[41]


  1. ^ קִטְנִיּוֹת (in Hebrew). Morfix. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  2. ^ "Kitniyot List – Passover". OU Kosher. Orthodox Union. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  3. ^ Exodus 13:3
  4. ^ "What is Kitniyot?". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  5. ^ "מנהג איסור קטניות". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  6. ^ Mathes-Scharf, Arlene. "Why is This Food Different from Other Foods? Kashrus/Passover and Modern Food Processing". Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  7. ^ "What is Kitniyot? – Passover". OU Kosher. Orthodox Union. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  8. ^ Nahshoni, Kobi (March 30, 2007). "Revolutionary ruling: 'Yes' to kitniyot on Pesach". Ynetnews.
  9. ^ "A Teshuvah Permitting Ashkenazim to Eat Kitniyot on Pesah", Amy Levin and Avram Israel Reisner, source
  10. ^ Berger, Joseph (April 8, 2011). "Giving a Haggadah a Makeover". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Levitt, Aimee (March 26, 2021). "The Maxwell House Haggadah was a triumph of advertising". The Takeout. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  12. ^ Italie, Leanne (March 22, 2011). "New Maxwell House Haggadah out for Passover". Washington Post. The Associated Press. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
  13. ^ a b c d Golinkin, David (24 December 2015). "Rice, beans and kitniyot on Pesah – are they really forbidden?" (PDF). Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. Rabbinical Assembly. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  14. ^ a b Mishnah Brurah 453:6
  15. ^ Why Sephardim eat Kitniyot but Ashkenazim don’t
  16. ^ Why Are These Cheerios Different from All Other Cheerios?
  17. ^ Pesachim 40b
  18. ^ Tosafot, Pesachim 40b, s.v. Rava; Nathan ben Jehiel, the Arukh
  19. ^ Hagahot HaGra, ibid.
  20. ^ Rabbeinu Manoah (Provence, ca. 1265) Sefer Hamenuchah, Hilchot Hametz Umatzah 5:1
  21. ^ אלישע אנצ'לוביץ': חירות, שוויון, אחווה, quoting Asher ben Meshullam and Ritva
  22. ^ Eli Lansey, In Defense of Kitniyot
  23. ^ a b Golinkin, "The Kitniyot Dilemma, Kolot Vol 6, No. 3, page 10, Spring 2013
  24. ^ a b c Golinkin, David (1989). "Eating Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach". Responsa for Today. Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  25. ^ Igrot Moshe, Orah Hayyim 3. 63
  26. ^ "A plea for 'kitniyot'". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  27. ^ "Can Jews eat rice, beans, lentils and other kitniyot on Passover?". 17 March 2020.
  28. ^ Berk, Eric. "Food Restrictions on Passover Explained". Reform Archived from the original on 2019-04-17. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  29. ^ "PESACH KASHRUT AND REFORM JUDAISM". CCAR RESPONSA. Central Conference of American Rabbis. 1995. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  30. ^ Sanchez, Tatiana (21 April 2016). "Passover to include new food options this year". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  31. ^ Schoenfien, Lisa (April 14, 2016). "Conservative Movement Overturns 800-Year-Old Passover Ban on Rice and Legumes". The Forward.
  32. ^ Levin, Amy; Reisner, Avram Israel (November 2015). "A Teshuvah Permitting Ashkenazim to Eat Kitniyot on Pesah" (PDF). Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. Rabbinical Assembly. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  33. ^ Green, Ann (April 16, 2016). "To Kitniyot or Not to Kitniyot, Passover's New Question". Jewish Boston.
  34. ^ Holzel, David (April 12, 2016). "Rabbis Expand the Passover Menu-- But Will Conservative Jews Bite?". Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).
  35. ^ Weiss, Ruchama; Brackman, Levi (31 March 2010). "Rabbis: 'Kitniyot rebellion' continues". Jewish World. Ynetnews. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  36. ^ "Beth HaWaadh Permits Eating of Kitniyoth by all Jews in Israel During Pesach". Machon Shilo (Press release). 20 March 2007. Archived from the original on 3 May 2007.
  37. ^ "פסק הלכה בענין מנהג אי-אכילת קטניות בפסח" [Halachic Ruling on the Custom of Eating Kitniyot on Passover] (PDF) (in Hebrew). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 May 2007.
  38. ^ Jeffay, Nathan (April 1, 2009). "Pesach Kitniyot Rebels Roil Rabbis As Some Ashkenazim Follow New, Permissive Ruling". No. News, Community News. The Forward Association, Inc. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  39. ^ Ahren, Raphael (April 15, 2011). "Efrat rabbi tilts against Passover food restrictions for Ashkenazi Jews". No. Home – Weekend – Anglo File. Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  40. ^ Luban, Yaakov; Gersten, Eli (4 March 2015). "Curious about Kitniyot?". Jewish Action. Orthodox Union. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  41. ^ "IN TIME FOR PASSOVER 2013, OU KOSHER ANNOUNCES NEW "OU KITNIYOT" CERTIFICATION SYMBOL". OU Kosher (Press release). Orthodox Union. Retrieved 24 April 2016.