When can I eat bread Passover?

Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays, commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. A key part of observing Passover is avoiding chametz, which refers to leavened foods made from wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and more. During Passover, Jews eat matzah, an unleavened flatbread, instead of chametz. So when can you eat regular bread during Passover?

When Does Passover Start and End?

Passover starts on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nisan and lasts for either seven or eight days, depending on your Jewish tradition. In 2023, Passover will begin at sundown on April 5 and end at nightfall on April 13.

However, avoiding chametz starts before the official first day of Passover. There is a period called the “Days of Preparation,” when leavened foods are removed from the home. This starts on the morning before the eve of Passover, which would be the morning of April 4 in 2023.

There are differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions in terms of when chametz becomes prohibited:

  • Ashkenazi Jews stop eating chametz at 10:12 a.m. on the day before Passover eve.
  • Sephardic Jews stop eating chametz at dawn on the day before Passover eve.

So in 2023, Ashkenazi Jews will need to eliminate chametz from their diet starting at 10:12 a.m. on April 4. Sephardic Jews need to cut out chametz beginning at dawn on April 4.

When Can I Eat Bread and Chametz Again?

After Passover ends, there is still a prohibition on eating chametz for a bit longer. This period is known as chametz she’avar alav haPesach in Hebrew.

For Ashkenazi Jews, the earliest time chametz can be eaten again is the night after the seventh day of Passover, which would be after nightfall on April 12 in 2023. For Sephardic Jews, chametz can be eaten again after the night following the eighth day of Passover, which would be after dusk on April 14 in 2023.

During the Days of Preparation before Passover and the period of chametz she’avar alav haPesach after Passover, Jews may sell their chametz to non-Jews to avoid wasting food. After Passover has fully ended, any chametz that had been sold can be repurchased.

What Foods Count as Chametz?

As mentioned, chametz refers to food made from wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt that has leavened and risen. This includes:

  • Bread
  • Bagels
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Beer

There is debate about whether oats can become chametz. Most Ashkenazi rabbis consider oats to be safe for Passover as they do not easily rise. However, some Sephardic rabbis ban oats on Passover to be strict.

Foods like meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables are all fine to eat on Passover as they do not qualify as chametz. Wheat and legume products like bread, pasta, and beans are not allowed during this time.

What is Matzah?

Matzah is the unleavened flatbread that substitutes for chametz breads and baked goods during Passover. It is made from only flour and water and not allowed to rise. Some types of matzah are:

  • Regular matzah – Made of just flour and water. Crisp and crunchy.
  • Egg matzah – Made with beaten eggs for extra flavor and a softer texture.
  • Whole wheat matzah – Uses whole wheat flour instead of regular.
  • Spelt matzah – Uses spelt flour.
  • Gluten-free matzah – For those with gluten intolerance.
  • Chocolate or fruit matzah – With extra flavors.

Matzah is typically eaten during the Passover seder meal in place of bread. It can also be used for sandwiches and snacks throughout the holiday.

What About Bread for Communion During Passover?

For Christian celebrations of Holy Communion during Passover, some churches use unleavened bread out of solidarity with Passover traditions. Others continue to use normal leavened bread, as traditions differ regarding whether Jesus’s Last Supper was a Passover seder.

Catholic tradition states that the communion wafer bread must be made of only wheat and water with no other ingredients. So for Catholic Mass during Passover, the wafer would be unleavened as it contains no yeast or leavening agents.

For Protestant communions, both leavened and unleavened bread may be used. Some churches opt for unleavened bread during Passover to symbolize removing sin or commemorate the Last Supper as a Passover meal. Others continue using normal leavened bread to represent the living Christ.

What Happens if You Accidentally Eat Chametz During Passover?

According to Jewish law, violating the chametz prohibition on Passover does require atonement and sacrifice once the Temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt. However, today most rabbis agree that accidentally eating chametz on Passover can be atoned for by praying, repenting, and pledging not to do so again.

If you accidentally eat chametz on Passover:

  • Do not panic. Pray and recommit to avoiding chametz.
  • Do not intentionally eat more chametz, as deliberately violating laws has stricter consequences.
  • Dispose of any remaining chametz in your home.
  • If possible, consult your rabbi on how to repent and make amends.

With repentance, accidentally consuming chametz can be forgiven. But be more mindful going forward to avoid further mistakes.

Can You Eat Matzah Year-Round?

Yes, matzah is permissible to eat year-round and does not only need to be eaten on Passover. Some Jews enjoy matzah with a Jewish soup called matzah ball soup outside of Passover. Matzah can also be found in some supermarkets and specialty stores non-Passover times of year.

However, matzah eaten outside of Passover is not subject to the special Passover kosher rules. Regular matzah sold year-round may be kosher, but not “kosher for Passover.” Passover matzah follows stricter regulations, like:

  • Watched from harvesting to ensure no leavening.
  • Made quickly under 18 minutes.
  • No additives aside from water and salt.

So while matzah itself is fine to eat year-round, only matzah specially supervised for Passover requirements should be eaten on Passover.

In Conclusion

Avoiding leavened breads and baked goods on Passover is central to properly observing the holiday. Chametz becomes prohibited starting on the day before Passover eve, with slight variations between Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. Unleavened matzah flatbread is eaten instead throughout the seven or eight days of Passover.

Once Passover concludes, chametz can be eaten again after waiting one day for Ashkenazi Jews or two days for Sephardic Jews. This allows time for the chametz to be repurchased after any symbolic selling. Accidentally eating chametz during Passover can be atoned for through repentance and more mindful observance.

Matzah is allowed to be eaten year-round, though only matzah made under special rabbinic supervision for Passover is acceptable during the holiday itself. With proper observance of Passover laws and traditions, the avoidance of chametz during this time can bring Jews closer to their heritage and religious ideals.

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