After eight hundred years of unyielding tradition, changes have come to the foods many Jews can now eat on Passover. In the 13th century, a controversial rule (even at the time) was put in place that prohibited Ashkenazi Jews - those of Eastern European descent - from eating rice, beans and other “kitniyot” (legumes like corn and peanuts). But earlier this month, the Conservative movement of Judaism declared that it's now okay to eat all of that stuff on Passover. It wasn’t like everyone abided to this rule in the first place, though. Sephardic Jews - those of Spanish, Middle Eastern, Portuguese or North African descent - have always pretty much eaten rice and beans on Passover due to the fact it was (and still is) a large part of the diet and banning it would put an unnecessary burden on those already struggling to eat. Either way, the rule change has opened the door to a more eclectic Passover seder (sushi, anyone?)
This seismic shift in Passover culinary tradition got us thinking - Are there are other things that we didn’t know to be, in fact, kosher for Passover?
Here’s a list of five other items that have recently been declared or made specifically to be kosher for Passover:
A tenant in Judaism is that biblical laws, with few exceptions, are superseded in matters pertaining to one’s health. In this vein, ultra-orthodox rabbis in Israel recently declared that medicinal marijuana can be kosher for Passover as long it’s grown under rabbinical supervision. This isn’t the first time that kosher marijuana has been in the news. In December, Vireo Health in New York declared that they had become the world’s first kosher medical cannabis supplier under the supervision of North America’s Orthodox Union.
So, in short, yes, you can get “Chai” on Passover.
2. Pet Food
In the Torah, what one can feed their dog is explicitly talked about. According to MyJewishLearning.com, Exodus says that dogs (and cats, hamsters and whatever other pets one may have) are allowed to eat non-kosher meat, but cannot have milk and meat together (much like their human counterparts). In terms of Passover, since humans aren’t supposed to derive any pleasure from “chametz,” (food made from wheat, barley, oats or rye) feeding one’s furry friend any chametz is also forbidden. So, under this logic, there’s kosher for Passover dog and cat food. Also, cat litter needs to be kosher for Passover.
Organizers added a new tradition at this annual hipster rite of spring: Passover seders. Sponsored by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein of the University of Southern California Hillel, a series of quick ten minute seders took place on Friday night for those hoping to “kosh their ‘chella.” The seders were mc’d by rapper Kosha Dillz with matzo and Manischewitz wine for all. Although Coachella dates for 2017 have not been announced yet, it is likely that it will once again fall during Passover. So, there will be a chance to seder it up in the desert next year.
McDonald’s is the largest fast food chain in Israel and in order to keep the dollar bills coming in a country where a significant portion of the population keep Passover, the golden arches have taken to improvising. Instead of wheat-based buns, McDonald’s uses potato starch buns in most of their Israeli locations during the eight day long holiday. Despite the creative thinking, there’s little chance that the Passover buns will end up replacing the regular buns during the rest of the year. According to one diner, “The bun leaves a little bit to be desired.”
5. Cigarettes and Cigars
While tobacco itself is certainly considered kosher for Passover, the issue around cigarettes on Passover is a health question: Is partaking in something that is harmful to oneself in accordance with Jewish law? In 2013, several Israeli-based cigarette companies were deemed kosher but Israel’s chief rabbinate opposed this decree by saying, "Poison is not kosher. For all days of the year, not just Passover." Nonetheless, cigar companies are also getting into the kosher for Passover game by producing cigars that are not only under rabbinical supervision but are only treated with water and rolled using a tree sap-based glue, as opposed to a more common glue derived from cereal grain.
Trump Vodka is NOT kosher for Passover, no matter what its label says
While the Republican presidential candidate’s vodka failed to do enough business in the US, it has had a second life on Israeli shelves as a kosher for Passover vodka. Earlier this month, however, it was uncovered by the Jerusalem Post that the vodka is, in fact, not kosher for Passover. In order for a vodka to be deemed acceptable for the holiday, it needs to be distilled from something other than grains. This typically means the vodka comes from potatoes, beets or sugarcane. It is not clear how this mistake was made, but CBS News’ attempts to reach Trump’s campaign for comment were not returned.