For those not familiar with Passover, or Pesach, Passover is a Biblically derived Jewish Holiday. On this holiday, Jews from around the world celebrate the exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago, when pharaoh released the Israelites from slavery. This event is commemorated each year by a Passover Seder, or dinner.
The Passover Seder plate is a special plate in which symbolic foods are placed upon and then later eaten during the Passover Seder. On the plate itself there are six pieces of food, that help to retell the story of the exodus from Egypt. There is a seventh symbolic piece of food served during the Passover Seder, which is three pieces of matzah, which is a cracker like bread, but these are not served on the seder plate itself. It is best to prepare the items for the Seder plate ahead of time as this does take a great amount of time.
The Matzah symbolizes the three types of Jews: the Priests, the Levites, and the Israelites. There are three pieces of matzah and the middle one is broken. The matzah itself is placed on a plate or cloth.
The Shankbone (Zeroah)
The Shankbone is a piece of roasted meat, preferably a roasted chicken neck, which represents the sacrificial lamb that took place on the eve of the exodus. It also symbolizes the sacrifice that took place on the afternoon before Passover in the Holy Temple. The shankbone is not eaten during the seder dinner.
The Egg (Baytsah)
The egg is hardboiled and represents the offering during the Passover holiday during the times of the Holy Temple. One egg is placed on each seder plate, however, there are usually more for use during the meal itself. When the meal is starting, remove the egg from the seder plate and use it during the meal. Typically the egg is chopped and sprinkled with saltwater that is set on the table. This is usually an appetizer.
The Bitter Herbs (Maror)
The bitter herbs are used to remember the bitterness of slavery. Typically fresh grated horseradish is used. The horse radish is placed on the seder plate atop cleaned and dried romaine lettuce. Typically the horseradish is eaten as “sandwich” with matzah and horseradish.
The Mixture (Charoset)
The mixture consists of a paste that is made from apples, nuts, and wine. It is used to resemble the mortar and brick made by the Jews when they were slaves for Pharaoh. The Bitter herbs are often dipped into this mixture as a relish, but then shaken off before eating.
The Vegetable (Karpas)
Karpas, or root vegetables such as onions or potatoes are used to remember the backbreaking work that the Jews did while as slaves in Egypt. During the seder dinner, a piece of the vegetable is dipped into saltwater before being eaten after reciting the appropriate blessing.
The Bitter Herbs or Lettuce (Chazeret)
Lettuce is used during the Passover Seder to symbolize the bitter enslavement of the Jews in Egypt. The lettuce is used with the horseradish, when eating the horseradish, and when eating the matzah and horseradish sandwich.
Passover is a great Biblical holiday to spend with ones family learning and studying the Tanach, or Bible. This gives people a chance to reconnect to the story of the exodus in a fun and inviting way. To find more information online about Passover, visit either the Aish website or the Chabad website.