Pesach: Ashkenazi Eating in Sephardi Home


My wife is Sefardi and eats kitniyot on Pesach. Even though she is married to me, an Ashkenazi, she still insists on eating kitniyot. I don’t stand in her way as long as she doesn’t contaminate our Pesach dishes. She has dry kitniyot snacks in our home, and she eats cooked kitniyot over the homes of other Sefardim in our community.
She has no relatives who live in town. For the first time ever, we are invited to spend the latter two days of the holiday with her parents. Not only do they eat kitniyot on Pesach, but they live in a mostly Sefardi community and lack an understanding of the scope of Ashkenazi dietary restrictions.

At their meals, they will be eating a lot of kitniyot. Even their non-kitniyot foods are prepared on keilim used for kitniyot. And they will be making some dishes that might have kitniyot ingredients, such as oils, and it won’t be evident. They speak with heavy accents and it’s hard to understand when I ask them what is in their recipes. They are nice, kind, loving people, but difficult to communicate with. What do I do about this?



  1. First, I think that it is very important to point out that Kitniyot is not chametz, and while there is a problem for Ashkenazim to eat Kitniyot foods on Pesach, there is no prohibition against an Ashkenazi eating non-Kitniyot foods that have been prepared in Kitniyot utensils. That includes all kinds of cooking and baking. Even though it is not something that an Ashkenazi should do in his own home, it would be permissible for you to eat non-Kitniyot foods that were prepared in Kitniyot utensils while you are staying at your in-laws.

    There is, however, a problem for Ashkenazim to eat Kitniyot foods on Pesach. Personally, I think that the most obvious solution is for your wife to tell her parents that you are both very much looking forward to spending the last days of Pesach with them and explain to them that you do not eat food made with Kitniyot on Pesach.

    In the same way, if your family custom is not to use oils derived from Kitniyot on Pesach, I think you should ask your wife speak with her parents to explain the problem and ask them, if possible, to please use only non-Kitniyot oils while you are staying with them.

    Personally, I feel that even if your custom is not to use Kitniyot-based oils on Pesach, I would suggest that you try to work your way around the food that is being prepared and that you try not to turn Kitniyot into something that might disrupt everyone’s Simchat Chag. The reason is two-fold. First, the commandment of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro is a Torah obligation whereas not eating Kitniyot for Ashkenazim is a Rabbinic decree, albeit a very established one that was accepted by all the Ashkenazic communities more than seven hundred years ago. Second, there are authorities who do permit the use of Kitniyot-based oils on Pesach, because the oil bears no resemblance to the original Kitniyot.

    Best wishes from the Team