The Seder Plate
Jewish people world-wide will be celebrating Passover 2021 from March 27 – April 4.
There are many variations on the culinary traditions and ritual interpretations of Passover (as well as the transliterations). Matzoh Balls, Tsimmes, Kugel, Brisket, Manischewitz and Macaroons…the one thing that is universal is the retelling of the Passover story of the Jews Exodus from Egypt at a festive family meal, called the Seder.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they fled from slavery in Egypt, all risen grains are forbidden. Matzah is the flat-bread staple for the 8 days, and homes are swept clean in a massive spring cleaning purge of bread, cakes, cereal pasta, fermented beverages and more.
The Seder Plate is the focal point on the dinner table, bearing the ceremonial foods of the Seder. It holds these symbolic foods:
Z’roa The shank bone that represents the sacrificial (Pascal) lamb.
Baytzah: The hard-boiled egg that represents the holiday offering brought in Temple times.
Maror: The bitter herbs, (often horseradish) that are reminders of the bitterness of slavery .
*Haroset: A sweet mixture chopped apples, nuts and wine that represents the mortar that the enslaved Jewish people used to build pyramids for the Pharaoh in Egypt.
Karpas: The vegetable, (often parsley) that represents the backbreaking work the Jews did in Egypt. And springtime, when nature blooms and hope is renewed.
A small dish of salt water is placed near the Seder plate, into which the vegetable and egg are dipped, to represent the bitter tears shed while enslaved.
*The base of any haroset is a “paste’ of sweet apple and/or pear, walnuts and red wine. Other diced or grated fresh or dried fruits, chopped or ground nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice can be optionally incorporated according to taste. This is a wonderful relish that can’t fail and everyone loves!
Chabad.org has a wealth of information, including recipe links, useful for every interest and experience level. It is the primary source for the limited information presented here.