Manischewitz’s kitniyot brand: Why this Passover is different from all other Passovers

Posted By on April 9, 2014

Only during Passover would unsalted rice cakes be considered a treat.

This year, observant Sephardic Jews those from the Mediterranean rim, whose dietary laws during Passover are ever so slightly more permissive than those of Eastern European descent can eat products made from a category of food called kitniyot, which includes rice, legumes, corn, peas, soy and lentils.

For the first time, rice cakes, peanut butter, popcorn and canned chickpeas are under American rabbinical supervision for Passover. Newark-based Manischewitz, the largest manufacturer of kosher food products in the United States, took note of growing pockets of Sephardic Jews in metropolitan New York, Florida, Chicago and Los Angeles, felt the time was ripe to cater to this demographic and unveiled its Kitni line for Passover, which begins Monday night. The line is certified kosher for Passover by the Orthodox Union, the leading certification body in the United States.

RELATED: New Jersey is a hotbed of matzo

Its a watershed moment, says Rabbi Chaim Jachter of Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. To me, this represents that the Sephardic community has become significant in this country and its needs have to be considered.

Even their need for rice cakes.

We want to make sure everybody feels comfortable in their heritage around the holiday, says Avital Pessar, an assistant brand manager for Manischewitz. Food is a big way people connect.

In Israel, with its larger Sephardic population, such products are commonplace at Passover. But because Ashkenazic Jews are the vast majority in the United States, kosher supervision has hewed to that tradition, which prohibits specific types of grains and legumes.

In case you were wondering, God doesnt actually name-check popcorn, but various traditions interpret the Bibles ban on hametz, or leavened foods, during Passover in different ways.

RECIPE: Banana French toast for Passover

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Manischewitz's kitniyot brand: Why this Passover is different from all other Passovers

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