Photo courtesy of Sarah Aroeste

Everyone Wants to be Sephardic at Passover

New song takes a lighthearted approach to Passover foods and customs

I remember learning two things—and only two things—about Sephardic culture in Sunday School as a young child. First, Sephardic Jews come from Spain. Second, Sephardic Jews eat rice and beans on Passover.

I have spent much of my adult life explaining to audiences around the world that there is actually much more to Sephardic culture than these two facts.

While the first one is generally considered true, the second one was only half the picture. In addition to rice and beans, Sephardic Jews can also eat corn, green beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, and much more. In other words, Sephardic Jews eat food from the category of kitniyot that are forbidden for Ashkenazi Jews of European origin to eat during Passover!

No wonder every year so many of my friends pretend to be Sephardic during Passover!

While Sephardim are much ignored and misunderstood for three hundred and fifty-eight days of the year, the eight days of Passover serve as our secret weapon to promote how wonderful our culture is.

Hence, I present my “8 Days Sephardic,” an ode to the advantages of being a member of our exclusive Sephardi tribe during Passover. With the refrain of “8 days, oy, do the arithmetic! And on Pesach, be Sephardic!” and pronouncements like “Be like Moses, be a maverick, and on Pesach, be Sephardic!,” I urge all my Ashkenazi friends to walk in my shoes for the upcoming holiday.

We Sephardim are much more than the kitniyot we eat; we are also a joyous, cheeky bunch. And we have a rich culture filled with history, color, cuisines, poetry and song. And yes, pinto beans, too.

Discover More

Passover (Pesach) At Home

Passover is one of the major festivals of the year where the home rituals are of such significance and importance that they overshadow those done in the community.

What is Not OK to Eat on Passover

Your guide to which foods are customarily avoided on the holiday.

Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews

The Jewish world is more ethnically and racially diverse than many people realize.

Time to Make Your Hanukkah Resolutions

Exploring the roots of the word, Hanukkah.

A Latin Twist on Hanukkah Latkes

A Hanukkah latke recipe inspired by Mexican and Jewish family traditions

A Spiel and a Yarn

How having an extended family of different faiths built my unique Jewish identity

Valuing Debate and Conversation

Jewish tradition, informed by the precedent of the Talmud, prefers to promote discussion rather than correctness.