Yom Tov – Pesah – Kashrut

Question: I’m so confused. Every list of what is permissible to eat on Pesah is different!  My mother doesn’t even know for sure.  Please help us.Answer:

The Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide 5770

This guide is based on the Guide that was prepared for the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards by Rabbi Mayer Rabinowitz and accepted by the Committee on December 12, 1984 with a number of changes that reflect subsequent decisions of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards and the ongoing changes in food production. Additional material on smooth top electric ranges, medicines, cosmetics, and toiletries has been added. This document has been prepared by Rabbi Barry Starr, a member of the Kashrut Subcommittee of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, and Rabbi Paul Plotkin, Chair of the Kashrut Subcommittee.

Of all the festivals, Pesah is the one that not only requires the most effort to prepare for, but by halakhic standards is the most complex. Yet most Jews are committed to doing their best to observe the laws of Pesah. Here we are providing a set of guidelines for Pesah food and preparations. We will present some principles first and then proceed to specifics. Of course we cannot cover every possibility in this brief outline. Please contact your local Conservative rabbi or local religious authority if you have any questions. For Conservative rabbis in your area, see:

In the USA: http://uscj.org/findasynagoguesea5425.html

Internationally: http://www.masortiworld.org

Because of the strictness of the halakhah regarding Pesah, the need to remove hametz physically from the home and diet, and the complexity of food preparation procedures in the modern world, there may be great variance in the approach of different Rabbis to Pesah halakhah. We cannot present all of the various approaches. We have chosen a path that follows Jewish Law while at the same time enabling our communities to observe Pesah with joy.

Kashering of Kitchen Appliances and Utensils It is customary (and easiest) to remove the utensils and dishes that are used during the

year, replacing them with either new utensils or ones used year to year only for Pesah. This is clearly not possible for major appliances and may not even be possible for dishes and utensils. There is a process for kashering many, but not all, kitchen items thus making them kosher for Pesah. The general principle used in kashering is that the way the utensil absorbs food is the way it can be purged of that food (Ke-volo kakh pol-to). Thus utensils used directly on a fire need to be kashered by fire (libbun), utensils used in cooking require boiling (hag’alah) and utensils used only for cold food are kashered by rinsing. Specific items are covered below.

a. Earthenware (china, pottery etc) cannot be kashered. However fine translucent chinaware that was put away clean and that has not been used for over one year, may be used after washing. The china is then pareve and may be designated for milchig or fleishig use.

b. Plastic items generally may not be kashered. Consult your Rabbi for specifics.

c. Metal utensils used in a fire must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and then must

be subjected to direct fire. A blow torch and a self-cleaning oven are two ways to

accomplish this purging (libbun). This is a complicated and potentially dangerous procedure and may result in discoloration of the metal being purged. Exercise caution when performing libbun. Metal baking utensils cannot be kashered because they require direct fire and this will warp them.

d. To kasher metal pots used for cooking and eating and silverware and utensils wholly of

metal not used for baking, thoroughly clean the item, then following a strict 24 hour waiting period, where they are not used, immerse the item (hag’alah) in water at a rolling boil. For pots and pans, clean handles thoroughly. If the handle can be removed, do so for a more thorough cleaning. Each item must be completely exposed to the boiling water to accomplish hag’alah. Pots and pans are either immersed in a larger pot of boiling water (may be done one section at a time) or filled with water brought to a rolling boil and then a heated stone is dropped into the pot such that the boiling water overflows to cover the sides of the pot. In the case of silverware every part of each piece must be exposed to the water at a rolling boil. Following this process, each utensil is rinsed in cold water.

e. Ovens and Ranges – every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly cleaned. This includes the walls and top and bottom of the oven. Then the oven or range should be heated as hot as possible. The oven should be heated at maximum heat for an hour; the range top until the elements turn red and glow. Then parts of the range top around the elements that can be covered should be covered, usually with aluminum foil. Self cleaning ovens are put through the full cleaning cycle while empty. Following this process the oven should be again cleaned to remove any ash. If the oven was very dirty to start, two cycles may be needed to assume a thorough cleaning.

f. Smooth top electric ranges present a challenge. We recommend cleaning the top thoroughly and then turning on the burners to maximum so that it heats as hot as possible and then carefully pour boiling water on the surface area around the burners.

g. Microwave ovens that have no convection option should be thoroughly cleaned. Then an 8 ounce cup of water is placed inside, the oven is turned on until the water almost disappears (at least 6 of the 8 ounces is gone). Heating to complete dryness may damage the oven. A microwave oven that has a browning element cannot be kashered.

h. Convection ovens are kashered like regular ovens. Make sure to clean thoroughly around the fan.

i. Glassware is a subject about which the authorities disagree. One opinion requires that glasses be soaked in water for three days, changing the water every 24 hours. Another opinion requires only that the glasses be scrubbed and cleaned thoroughly or run through a dishwasher. Glass cookware is treated like a metal pot. See above for procedure. Glass bakeware like metal bakeware cannot be kashered.

j. A dishwasher needs to be thoroughly clean including the inside area around the drainage.

Then a full cycle while empty should be run with kosher detergent. After 24 hours of not being used the dishwasher is again run empty for the purpose of kashering. The

dishwasher and the racks are pareve following this process. For enamel coated dishwashers, consult a rabbinic authority.

k. Other electrical appliances can be kashered if the parts that come in contact with hametz

are metal and are removable, in which case they may be kashered like all other metal cooking utensils. If the parts are not removable, the appliances cannot be kashered. We recommend whenever possible that small appliances be used that are strictly for Pesah thus avoiding the difficulty of kashering these appliances.

l. Tables, closets, and counters should be thoroughly cleaned and covered for Pesah. The

coverings can be contact paper, regular paper, foil or cloth that does not contain hametz (e.g. been starched with hametz starch). Alternatively, boiling water may be poured over the counters after they have been thoroughly cleaned. The use of this alternative method depends on the material of which the counter was made. Below is a list of materials for countertops that the Chicago Rabbinical Council affirms may be kashered for Passover. It is important to note that these materials may be kashered only if they are not stained, scratched, or cracked. Surfaces with a synthetic finish also must be cleaned and covered as they may not be kasherable. For questions contact a rabbinic authority.

Common Brands:

Avonite Buddy Rhodes Caesar Stone Cheng Design Corian Craftart Formica Gibraltar John Boos Nevamar Omega Pionite Silestone Spekva Staron Surrell Swanstone Wilsonart Zodiaq

Common Materials:

Acrylic Granite Marble Metals (stainless steel, copper) Plastic laminate

Polyester Base Quartz resign Slate Soapstone Wood, butcher block

m. A metal kitchen sink can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing the sink (especially the garbage catch), letting it sit for 24 hours and then carefully pouring

boiling water over all the surfaces of the sink including the lip. A porcelain sink cannot be kashered, so Pesah dish basins and dish racks must be used, one each for milchig and fleishig.

n. Non-Passover dishes, pots, utensils and hametz food that have been sold as part of the selling of one’s hametz should be separated, covered or locked away to prevent accidental use.

Foods and Food Stuff

The Torah prohibits the ownership of hametz (leavened grains) during Pesah. Therefore, we arrange for the sale of the hametz to a non-Jew. The transfer, mekhirat hametz, is accomplished by appointing an agent, usually one’s rabbi, to handle the sale. It is a valid and legal transfer of ownership. At the end of the holiday, the agent arranges to repurchase the items on behalf of the owner, since the hametz is again permitted. If ownership of the hametz was not transferred before the holiday, the use of any such hametz remains prohibited after the holiday (hametz she- avar ha-Pesah).

Since the Torah prohibits the eating of hametz during Pesah, and since many common foods contain some hametz, guidance is necessary when shopping and preparing for Pesah.

An item that is kosher all year round, and that is made with no hametz, and is processed on machines used only for that item and nothing else may be used with no special Pesah supervision. White milk would be an example of such a product. In most cases however, since we do not know enough about the processing of products or the sources of ingredients products ought to have Pesah supervision. Those who wish to follow other opinions should check with their Rabbi.

What follows is a general guideline. All kosher for Pesah items must have a label indicating the name of a recognizable living supervising Rabbi or kosher supervision agency. Items that have a label that is not integral to the package and does not indicate the product and current Pesah year, should not be used without consulting your Rabbi.

Prohibited foods include the following: leavened bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers or coffees containing cereal derivatives i.e. anything made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye. Any food containing these grains or derivatives of these grains (the five prohibited species for Pesah) are forbidden. Foods containing flavorings, which may be derived from alcohol produced from one of these grains which would be hametz, need Pesah supervision.

Ashkenazi Rabbinical authorities have added the following foods (kitniyot) to the above list: e.g. rice, corn, millet, beans and peas. These and other plant foods (e.g. mustard, buckwheat and sesame seeds) are not permitted on Pesah. Although many rabbinic authorities have prohibited the use of peanuts and peanut oil, our Movement’s Committee on Laws and Standards has permitted their use and consumption on Pesah provided said items have proper kosher certification and no obvious hametz. Most Sephardic authorities permit the use of all the kitniyot foods other than those that might have come in contact with the prohibited grains. The further processed products whether liquid or solid from kitniyot are also forbidden by most rabbinical authorities. These might include but not be limited to: corn sweetener, corn oil, soy oil and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Israeli products are often marked “contains “kitniyot” and, thus, Ashkenazi Jews who do not use kitniyot need to be vigilant when purchasing Israeli products.

Permitted Foods:

a. The following foods require no kosher l’ Pesah label when purchased before or

during Pesah: fresh fruits and vegetables that have not been coated (the supermarket is required by the FDA to have a list of such products), eggs, fresh fish from a kosher source and fresh kosher meat or frozen, raw hekhshered meat other than ground products as ground products with prohibited materials could be made on the same equipment.

b. The following products require reliable kosher l’Pesah certification (regular

kosher supervision being not sufficient) whether bought before or during Pesah: all baked goods (matzah, Pesah cakes, matzah flour, farfel, matzah meal and any other products containing matzah, canned or bottled fruit juices, canned tuna, wine, vinegar, liquor, decaf coffee, dried fruits, oils, frozen uncooked vegetables, candy, chocolate flavored milk, ice cream, yogurt, all cheeses and soda. (These restrictions hold for Ashkenazic Jews; for Sephardic Jews, the presence in some of these products of kitniyot but not hametz may not present a problem.

c. The following foods require no kosher l’Pesah label but do require Kashrut

supervision if purchased new and unopened before Pesah: natural coffee without cereal additives, non-confectioners’ sugar, pure tea (not flavored herbal or decaf tea), salt with no iodine, milk (in the absence of a kosher Pesah alternative), frozen uncooked fruit with no additives, and baking soda.

d. Any processed food bought during Pesah must have a kosher l’Pesah label.

e. Any detergent, because it is not a food and it is not eaten, may be used for Pesah as long as it has valid kosher supervision.

f. Medicines: Since hametz binders are used in many pills, the following guidelines

should be followed: If the medicine is required for life sustaining therapy, it may be used on Pesah. If it is not for life sustaining therapy, authorities differ in their approaches. Please consult with your Rabbi. Capsules, because they do not need binders, are preferable to pills.

Question:  I have a 5 1/2 year old, Remi,  who goes to Jewish day school. She just eats up the religion part and wants to follow it all.  The problem is I have a 2 year old with 32 (that is not a typo) food allergies.  at present, she can only eat turkey, rice, pears and beets without getting severly ill!  The family tries to eat as much of the same, so the baby doesn’t feel left out.  That means puffed rice, rice pasta, rice cakes, rice bread, rice crackers etc…Remi is upset that we won’t be following a strict passover diet.  I tried explaining that Hashem understands but she is not buying it — any suggestions?

Answer: It seems to me that you are following a strict Pesah diet – according to a Sephardi tradition!  But if Remi doesn’t want to eat rice products, perhaps she could simply refrain.  In any case, it might be more effective to go to your own rabbi, tell her/him what you told me, and have him/her tell Remi that she is not eating hametz, and that when her baby sister/brother(?) get a little older, she can keep a more traditional Ashkenazi Pesah diet.  At times, words coming from a rabbi can have a stronger effect than the same words coming from a parent!

Question:  Must a granite kitchen countertop be covered during passover?

Answer: Most authorities suggest covering all countertops.  However, a granite countertop may be kashered by cleaning it thoroughly and pouring boiling water over the entire surface.

Question:  I will be going to my parent’s home Friday morning the 9th & not returning till after Pesach is over.  Should I still Kosher my home?

Answer: You do not need to kasher your home for Pesah, per se.  You don’t, for example, need to kasher and cover sinks, countertops, tables, etc.  However, you do have the obligation to clean your home of hametz and sell any hametz which you might still have in your possession.  In addition, you must do bedikat hametz (searching for hametz) Thursday night, and bi’ur hametz (burning hametz) Friday morning.

Question: One of the ways that Spanish Inquisitors rooted out “lapsed” conversos was to have the converso’s servants or neighbors observe their food habits.  In one documented case a servant observed, around Passover, her mistress making small crackers and pressing her thumb into them – matzoh, with a thumbprint to prove they were unleavened.  This made me realize that for most of history, Jews didn’t walk down to the SuperFresh and pick up a box of factory-made matzoh.  At best, a Jew may have bought some at a community bakery, but for the most part I would think that people made their own.  Why has this fallen so far out of practice?  People look at me in utter shock when I ask if they knew anything about making their own matzoh.  No one even seems to kind of sort of remember that maybe their grandmother did so once upon a time.  I would assume that one would bake one’s matzoh before Passover, to ensure that if it accidentally became leavened, it could be discarded properly.  Once baked, would it require a rabbi’s approval?

Answer: Making kosher for Passover matzah is very difficult, all but impossible to do in a home kitchen, because the oven simply is not hot enough to bake the dough in the requisite period of time before it would become leavened.  In Jewish communities some 100 years ago or more, I imagine that the town baker, who had a proper oven, would bake matzah under proper Rabbinic supervision for the town.  The Rabbinical supervision needs to come before and during the baking, not after.

Question: I am a recent convert to Judiasm and am trying very hard to be observant.  I am, however married to a Christian woman (we were married before my conversion, and she is happy and helpful throughout, including serving kosher meals in a kosher kitchen).  I am concerned with Pesach, though and hametz.  It is not fair for me to ask her not to eat bread or cereal (a large part of her diet) for a week.  It would cause huge fights and resentments.  Is is enough that I don’ t eat this and only eat “kosher for PAssover foods?  Can I “sell” the hametz to her, even though it would remain in the house?  I would be eating from plastic plates and utensils that week..  Also, I am attending a second night Pesach meal at shul.  Will that satisfy the mitzvah?  It would be to awkward to do it at home.

Answer: There are problems inherent in living a full Jewish life in an intermarried household, and I’m afraid you have stumbled upon one of the major ones.  It is most unfortunate that these issues were not addressed before you converted.  In a way, your marriage (especially if you have children) is more important than your religious identity and observance.  When you married, you made a covenant with your wife to behave in certain ways, and a radical change in religious practice can be seen as a betrayal of the wedding vows.  I will answer your questions, but please understand that it is not my intent to put additional stress on your marriage.  I am hoping, however, that if your wife has been truly helpful throughout the conversion process, including keeping a kosher kitchen, that she will be willing to continue this despite the inconvenience of Pesah.  She certainly is not obligated to keep Pesah outside of your home, but if she would keep it inside the home, that would lead to a more harmonious relationship between the two of you, since you have committed yourself to take on the obligations of Torah and Judaism in your home.

Since you and your wife own property jointly (a legal definition of marriage, in most states), it would not be possible to sell the hametz to her.  You would need to sell it through your rabbi to a third person.  Keep in mind that once hametz is sold it no longer belongs to you, and therefore none of the hametz in your house could be eaten by your wife — to do so would would constitute theft of someone else’s property.

It is a mitzvah to have a Seder on both of the first two nights of Pesah.  Perhaps the synagogue can find a family to host you, if you are not comfortable having a Seder at home.

Question:  I have an allergy to wheat, how do I get around it?  Do you know of any source for oat matza or oat matza meal, or flour that does not contain wheat?

Answer: You can try contacting David Kestenbaum of Lakewood, N.J., who imports matzah made from oat flour or spelt flour from Israel and England.  His phone number is 908-370-8460.

Question:  1) We understand that the Jewish vegetarians a number of years ago received a heter from an Orthodox rabbi in NY that they could go by Sephardic Minyan rather than starve on Passover.  What do you think?

2) If you go by Sephardic minyan and eat beans, what does that do to Tofu and soy milk that have a hekhser.  Soy sauce is fermented so not allowed.  What about the soy milk and tofu?

Answer: I am unaware of a specific heter by an Orthodox rabbi for Jewish vegetarians to followed Sefardi minhag [custom] on Pesah, although that does not mean that it did not happen.  However, I know many Ashkenazi vegetarians who do not starve on Pesah!

In my opinion the reasons for observing the restrictions against eating kitniyot (rice and beans) on Pesah are not compelling.  Although I do not eat them, I do not object to other Ashkenazi Jews abandoning that tradition, because kitniyot are not considered hametz by Ashenazi tradition.  Frankly, the only reason to continue observing the custom of not eating kitniyot is minhag avoteinu b’yadeinu, following the custom of our ancestors.  This is a rabbinic instruction that cautions us against unwisely throwing away our unique family traditions.

However, in the United States (unlike Israel), it is very difficult to find prepared foods that are certified kosher for Pesah from a Sefardi minhag.  Fresh or dried beans and rice are not problematic.  Tofu and other prepared foods might be more problematic — you would need to contact the company to ensure that there are no real hametz products in the processing.  By the way, fermented bean products, such as soy sauce, are not necessarily forbidden unless there are fermented with hametz ingredients.

Question:  As we approach Pesah, my wife and I have a few questions about our daughter Ellen (Esther) concerning kashruth.  Ellen is six months old.  She eats rice cereal, baby food vegetables, and formula which is cow’s milk based.  Although all of these items are kosher, is she permitted to eat the rice cereal on Pesah?  My wife is Sephardic, but her custom is not to eat rice on Passover.  The baby eats very little food, and always follows food with formula.  Although the baby has never eaten meat; in the future is she required to observe a waiting period following a meat meal?

Answer: First of all, remember that rice is not hametz.  Since you can be certain that the cereal is pure rice cereal, with no wheat additives, it is not a violation of Pesah to have the rice cereal in your possession or to feed it to your child, even if you yourself would not eat rice.

Regarding a waiting period between milk and meat:  Young children are not obligated to keep kosher to the same extent as older children or adults.  Thus, I would not be too concerned with a waiting period at six months of age.  However, when I gave my children meat baby food at that age, the cereal “side dish” was mixed with fruit juice, rather than milk.  As our children have gotten older (they are now 2 1/2), we are becoming more strict about not following a meat meal with a dairy snack.  Part of the process of raising Jewish children is to introduce them to mitzvot as they begin to develop the capacity to do them, even before they have the intellectual capacity to understand them.  Good luck!

Question:  It is passover and there is nothing to eat for breakfast. First i would like to know if oatmeal is bread and kosher for passover. Second, I would like to know what some kosher foods are that i can eat for breakfast.

Answer: Oatmeal is one of the five grains that according to the Torah is prohibited on Pesah.  However, you can find various kinds of kosher for Pesah cereal.  Personally, I like Matzah brie for breakfast!

Question:  The description of Kasha says that it is actually a berry and not a grain.  Does this mean it is an acceptable food during Passover?

Answer: Kasha is the berry of the buckwheat plant.  The fact that it is a berry does not affect its status on Pesah – the actual grain of wheat would also be called a berry.  However, there are only five grains prohibited on Pesah because they have the potential to become hametz, leavening – wheat, rye, oats, spelt, and barley.  Other grains, such as corn or rice, are prohibited because they resemble the above five grains, and might have been mixed with or be mistaken for hametz.

My gut instinct tells me that kasha would be forbidden along the same lines as rice or corn – meaning that it is technically permitted on Pesah, and some Jews might eat it on Pesah.

Thanks for the interesting question!

Question:  I have a pet cat. What do I do about its food not being kosher? Is there a source for kosher pet food? This problem was presented to me by someone specifically in light of the approach of Pesach.

Answer: With respect to non-Pesah issues, as long as you don’t eat the cat food, there is no problem!  There is no prohibition against owning treif food and feeding it to your cat.

Pesah presents a different problem, since one is prohibited from owning any hametz.  There are several possible ways out of this problem:

1)  According to halakha, if a food is unfit for human consumption (a moldy piece of bread, for example), it is not considered hametz.  However, some cat food may not be considered unfit for human consumption.

2)  When you sell hametz before Pesah, the standard contract (see your rabbi for details) contains a long list of the kinds of hametz that you might be selling.  Included in the list are animals and animal food.  Therefore, since you are selling your cat and its food, you have bypassed the Torah’s prohibition against owning hametz.  You are simply holding onto a non-Jew’s cat and feeding it using the non-Jew’s catfood.

3)  A third alternative, preferred by some, is to physically remove the cat from your house during Pesah.  I don’t think this is necessary, but by getting a cat-sitter for a week, you avoid the problem entirely.

Question: Why can’t we eat corn in any form on Passover?  If the rules of Passover dictate that we do not eat bread as we may  not have leavening, why is it that corn tortillas are not allowed?  They do not contain flour nor any leavening.

Answer: As you know, the Torah forbids eating hametz, any food which has leavening in it, on Pesah.  This includes bread, cereal, noodles, etc.  The Talmud lists five types of grain which, when combined with water, can become hametz:  wheat, oats, spelt, barley, and rye — NOT CORN.

However, Ashkenazi Jews, whose origins trace back to Eastern Europe and Russia, also do not eat “kitniyot” on Pesah, which include corn, rice, beans (though not green beans), and legumes.  These were forbidden because:

1)  they could possibly be mistaken for hametz; or

2)  They were stored in the same bags as kitniyot, and could possibly have become mixed together; or

3)  One could make bread out of some kinds of kitniyot – especially corn.

Although some Jews have decided to eat corn on Pesah, most do not for the reasons above.

Question:  Why is corn and corn syrup not kosher for Passover?

Answer: Sometimes, the shortest questions require the longest answers!

The Torah forbids Hametz, leavening, on Pesah.  The Talmud lists five types of grain which, when combined with water, have the potential to become Hametz:  wheat, oats, spelt, barley, and rye.  In addition, there is a secondary class of food called “kitniyot which include corn, rice, beans (though not green beans), legumes, and peanuts – which were forbidden because

1)  they could possibly be mistaken for Hametz; or

2)  They were stored in the same bags as kitniyot, and could possibly have become mixed together.

3)  One could make bread out of some kinds of kitniyot – especially corn.

Although in Ashkenazi practice, kitniyot are not eaten on Pesah, they are also not hametz.  This means that while we must rid our homes of all hametz products, because we may not own hametz on Pesah – we need not get rid of kitniyot, but rather we may put them away so we do not eat them accidentally.

So – while corn is forbidden for this reason, many people do use corn syrup because corn syrup will never be mistaken for hametz, nor is there a fear that corn syrup (properly supervised) will have become mixed with a forbidden oil.  Forbidding corn (or other kitniyot) is a secondary prohibition, to keep us for accidentally transgressing; forbidding corn syrup (or other derivatives of kitniyot) would be a tertiary prohibition, and many authorities consider this unnecessary.

In my opinion, the reasons for prohibiting the eating of most kinds of kitniyot are not compelling.  Some in the Conservative rabbinate are beginning to permit them because it is clear that they are not hametz, nor is there a reasonable chance that they will have become mixed with hametz.  However, the tradition of not eating grains like corn and rice, which look so very much like hametz, should probably continue.

Question:  I am sitting here staring at a package of “Kosher for Passover”  crystal gels manufactured by Joyva Corp. of Brooklyn. The second ingredient is corn syrup. The hekhsher is Rabbi D. I. Sheinkopf and the following lines appear on the back:

“Please note: liuqified legumous extracts, e.g., corn syrup, in kosher for passover foods, are fully sanctioned for ashkenazim and sephardim alike by preeminent orthodox halachic authorities, including the renowned posek hador, R. Yitzchak Elchanon Spector, ZTL.”

Huh?? I was always taught that corn syrup, as a byproduct of corn, cannot be in any kosher for passover foods. Ditto soybean oil or anything else from a legume other than peanut butter.  Has something changed in the last 20 years? Or is this one of those “questionable” areas?

Answer: There is a long standing debate about whether derivatives of kitniyot are kosher.  Kitniyot are of course legumes, corn, and rice (but not peanuts!), and are forbidden to Ashkenazi Jews on Pesah.  However, derivatives of kitniyot such as corn oil and sweeteners are permitted by some Rabbis based on the following argument:

Kitniyot might have been forbidden because they look similar to hametz grains (their are several other explanations for the prohibition of kitniyot).  The derivitives of kitniyot no longer resemble hametz, and thus may be permitted.

Confusing?  Yes!  This is indeed why many observant Jews do not accept products with corn syrup.  My wife noted this year that K-P regular Coke tastes better than normal Coke, because it is made with cane sugar rather than corn sweeteners.  Note, however, that Coke does not change their label, which still reads, “corn syrup.”

Question:  My daughter and I are Vegan and eat no animal products at all.  Passover is a challenge.  I read the other questions and answers regarding legumes, whether or not it is acceptable to eat them on Passover. If I understand correctly, the by-product of beans are acceptable, i.e. peanut butter; but what about tofu?  Would it be acceptable for us to eat tofu and other non-meat products made with vegetable protein (soy).  Why can we use peanut oil during passover, but not peanuts?

Answer: First of all, a definition:  kitniyot traditionally include rice, beans (though not green beans), legumes, and peanuts.  A 1985 teshuvah (legal decision) by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative movement has ruled that peanuts are not kitniyot.  Therefore, both peanuts and peanut butter should be permitted.

Even for those for whom kitniyot are prohibited, however, certain by-products of kitniyot are often permitted.  Corn syrup is a prime example of this – many authorities DO permit corn syrup, even though they do not permit the consumption of corn on Pesah.

Therefore, while soybeans would be prohibited as kitniyot, derivatives of soybeans such as tofu might very well be permitted, AS LONG AS you are absolutely sure that in the processing of tofu, no hametz ingredients are used.

However, you might take one further step.  There is, in fact, a teshuvah written by David Golinkin, a Conservative rabbi in Israel, permitting the consumption of kitniyot on Pesah for Jews living in Israel.

He argues that the original reasons behind the prohibition against consuming kitniyot are meaningless, and that the only reason to continue the prohibition is the principle of minhag avoteinu b’yadeinu – “the custom of our ancestors is in our hands.”  According to this principle, if we have inherited a long standing tradition from our ancestors, we may not abrogate it.  However, Rabbi Golinkin argues that in Israel, where there is a large Sephardic Jewish population who eat kitniyot on Pesah, it makes sense to allow the development of a new eretz Yisrael minhag (custom).  Therefore, he allows the consumption of kitniyot on Pesah for Jews living in Israel.

If you find his arguments persuasive (and I do), you might extend them to people in this country who, like yourself, rely heavily on eating kitniyot for your regular diet.  In my opinion, since the reasons for prohibiting the eating of most kinds of kitniyot are not compelling, this alone is enough to permit their consumption in this country.  Just because my ancestors adopted the baseless custom of steering clear of kitniyot does not by itself provide a compelling reason for me to continue to do the same.

For this reason, some in the Conservative rabbinate are beginning to permit kitniyot because it is clear that they are not hametz, nor is there a reasonable chance that they will have become mixed with hametz.  However, the tradition of not eating grains like corn and rice, which look so very much like hametz, should probably continue.

To summarize:  Not only would I say that you may eat derivatives of kitniyot (as long as you are certain that they contain absolutely no hametz), I would also permit you to eat the kitniyot themselves, as long as you feel comfortable abrogating the long-standing custom of your family as Ashkenazi Jews of refraining from eating kitniyot.

Question:  Is mustard is kosher to use at Passover?

Answer: Mustard seeds have been prohibited by some Orthodox rabbis on the grounds that they are kitniyot.  In fact, they are not, and should be permitted.  However, mustard itself contains vinegar, which is definitely hametz.  Thus, I don’t know of any mustard that is supervised for Pesah use.

Question:  Is there any alcoholic beverage such as Rum, or Vodka that can be drunk durring passover?

Answer: Other than wine, there are some alcoholic beverages that are supervised kosher for Pesah.  Anything made from grain is obviously not; but you should be able to find Pesah-supervised grape or fruit based liquors in a good Pesah-stocked store.

Question:  We are an obeying kosher family. We would like to know if water chest nuts are kosher for passover?

Answer: Water chestnuts are kosher for Pesah, as long as they are either 1) fresh; 2) canned with water only (and no other additives, including salt); or 3) specially certified kosher for Pesah.

Question:  The young Rabbi at our Senior Center is asking all the seniors if their grandparents ever served smoked meat at the second night seder. This custom was not known to anyone as yet. I promised that I would go on the internet and ask you knowledgeable Rabbis if you know of this custom.

Answer: I have not heard of the custom of eating smoked meat on Pesah.  Have you asked the rabbi at the senior center for the background behind the custom?

Question:  After many years of eating frozen vegetables for Passover, we are now told  that frozen vegetables are not Kosher for Passover. Why the sudden change or is this just a local change here in St. Louis, due to political reasons. Has this change of opinion occurred in other parts of the U.S.? If they are no longer kosher for Passover, does that mean that frozen vegetables are not kosher during the rest of the year? If so, why not?

Answer: It is not only St. Louis which is experiencing this phenomenon, but all around the country the kashrut supervision industry is becoming more and more right wing and stringent.

As far as I know, frozen vegetables (as long as they are not processed or seasoned, other than salt) are kosher for year round use without specific supervision.  They should also be kosher for Pesah use as long as they have absolutely no additives (including salt), and they are purchased before Pesah.