Friday, April 15, 2011

KLF Makes the News (Again)

The Kitniyot Liberation Front was featured in today's online edition of the Ha'aretz "newspaper" (and I use that term generously).

While I make it a practice not to visit the website due to its severely anti-Israel slant, the article is worth a read. The author is a recent immigrant from Germany and his frustration with kitniyot custom in Israel--and his own questions about the minhag lead him to write the article.

Efrat rabbi tilts against Passover food restrictions for Ashkenazi Jews

Others, unhappy with holiday legume laws, launch Kitniyot Liberation Front.

... A few week's ago, Rabbi Zvi Leshem, of Efrat, issued a ruling that it is permissible to consume products and dishes containing kitniyot, as long as they do not constitute the main ingredient and are not directly recognizable. His decision will help those who do not want to entirely abandon the tradition of avoiding kitniyot but have difficulties finding certain items - such as oil, mayonnaise or chocolate spreads - that do not contain kitniyot in their ingredients.

...But more and more Ashkenazim, especially Anglos, feel that in Israel it no longer makes sense to observe a custom followed by a minority.

Louis Gordon, for example, said he wondered about the kitniyot divide since he moved from Baltimore to Israel 21 years ago. "I couldn't understand how kitniyot is kosher for these and treif [not kosher] for those," he told Anglo File. "There are people for whom kitniyot is worse than hametz. It didn't make any sense."

To vent his frustration, Gordon, 44, recently created a Facebook group called Kitniyot Liberation Front. The site, which currently has over 600 members, many of them local Anglos, seeks to promote awareness of lenient rabbinic opinions regarding the use of legumes on Passover. His opinion is mainly based on the views of Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, the head of Jerusalem's Shilo Institute, who in 2007 issued a ruling allowing Ashkenazim in Israel to eat kitniyot.

"The issue of kitniyot turns the holiday of Pesach from one of abstaining from hametz into abstention from kitniyot. Ashkenazim won't eat with Sephardim - this is not what God put us on earth for, to divide the people," the Yad Bimyamin resident told Anglo File.

The opposition against kitniyot will soon reach the "breaking point," Gordon predicted. "A lot of people are pushing hard for this." Especially Anglo immigrants are ready to drop the kitniyot prohibition, which has to do with the fact that newcomers often feel they're abandoning their family traditions as soon as they arrive in Israel, he said.

“If you’re looking to leave the galut [Diaspora] mentality behind then you’re definitely going to leave kitniyot behind.”

Leshem, too, said he noticed many Orthodox Israelis disavowing the kitniyot prohibition. “It bothers me even though I can understand where it’s coming from,” he told Anglo File. “I’m in favor of unity among the Jewish people. But it does not seem to me halakically legitimate to just abandon the custom.” His ruling allows Ashkenazim to eat in Sephardic homes, as long as they’re not eating actual recognizable kitniyot, or dishes containing mostly of kitniyot, he added.

Although Gordon, of the Kitniyot Liberation Front, argues for an end to the “foolish custom” of banning kitniyot, he hinted that his wife is not ready to introduce the controversial items to her kitchen. “We don’t serve kitniyot, but if I’m out or if I’m with Sephardim and they’re serving it, it’s not an issue at all,” he said.

“The real idea behind the Liberation Front is that we need to forget about the little things. Kitniyot are little things. We mustn’t panic about eating something we know is not hametz on Pesach,” Gordon said. “If this is the thing that consumes the attention of the Jewish people, we’re really in a bad situation. We have much bigger issues to worry about.”

5 comments:

E said...

Kol Hakavod to Mr. Gordon for his valiant efforts on behalf of sane Jewry! And kol hakavod to sane rabbis such as Rabbi David Bar-Hayim!

Batya said...

Kitniyot does divide. We don't eat it, but our grandchildren are Tunisian and I allow rice at our table for them. It's not "traif," nor is it chametz. It's just a minhag for ashkenazim not to eat it.

KLF said...

Batya, we won't argue. Indeed, it's "just a minhag." The problem is that people, mostly BTs or people without much learning, make it into much more.

As we've said on more than one occasion, kitniyot are just the "little things". There are much bigger issues facing us.

amigo said...

I have staged the Rice intifada concerning the eating of rice as pesach. I was told it was haram, but being sephardic I walk in the light not in darnkness.

amigo said...

I have staged the Rice Intfada when my coreligionists suggested rice was blasphamy at Pesach. Being sephardic I walk in the light instead of the darkness.