April 1, 2020

Getting Creative With Your Virtual Seder Plate

By Haggadot

Hello Haggadot.com Seder Planners! We’ve heard our users are getting creative with their seder plates this year with so many virtual Passovers.  


One tip we recommend, when you are hosting your own virtual seder, is to devote extra electronic equipment to filming the seder plate. For instance, you could set up your child’s iPad to stationarily film the Seder plate throughout the service. This way your guests can always have a Seder plate at their table even if they are not able to make a full one of their own. 


We also recommend hosts nominate guests to display parts of the seder plate at their respective locations. For instance, the host could have the maror, charoset, parsley, salt water, and matzah at their house in New York, while the older sibling could have the shank bone in their apartment in San Francisco, and the grandparents could have the egg in their assisted living home in Florida. 


If you’re not able to get all the seder plate items or if preparing food is just too much for you this year - you can print images from Haggadot.com for those items. 


With grocery shopping limited for many people, this is the year to creatively add or substitute seder plate items. Make do with what you have or find new ways to symbolize the holiday.


Maror is the bitter herb, which helps us to remember the bitterness of the slavery our ancestors suffered in Egypt. We usually use horseradish for the symbol, but one creative ingredient you could use might be ginger root. Not only is it bitter, but it is also a medicinal herb that reminds us of the suffering of people suffering from COVID-19 and the medicinal work of doctors around the globe. 


Z’roa is the shank bone, which represents the lamb that was sacrificed by the Jews to protect them from the plague of the firstborn. It might be difficult to find lamb at the grocery store, and you might not want to do an extra errand to the butcher, so a bone from any piece of meat or fish would be more than OK. Another fun substitution is a piece of cured meat, which is a form of meat that keeps for a long time during this crisis and also has the added pun of being cured :) And vegetarians have used beets in place of the shank bone for years. 


Charoset is a mixture of fruits, nuts, and wine to resemble the mortar and brick made by the Jews when they were slaves under Pharaoh. The Ashkenazi tradition calls for apples and walnuts, which have also been listed as food for healthy lungs. Some other fun substitutions that boost immune systems are almonds for the nuts and blueberries for the fruit and green tea for the wine. But, like us, many of you will want to cherish our freedoms as much as possible and keep the wine :)


Chazeret is the second bitter herb. If you wanted to have one traditional horseradish and one ginger bitter herb to symbolize the medical workers this would be the place to do it. We’ve also read that many people use wilted lettuce to symbolize the lack of fresh food at grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods and poor countries in the world. 


Karpas is the symbol of the spring harvest and new beginnings, which is typically represented with parsley. We’ve noticed a lot of people on social media foraging in their backyards, neighborhoods, or nature areas for fresh greens during these times. This is a perfect moment, the spring, to forage for your own karpas before your seder or to use anything green you have in your home


Beitzah is an egg that symbolizes the circle of life, new beginnings and hope. Many of us have noticed that sometimes the most basic food ingredients are the most comforting during all this. If you are running low on eggs, perhaps consider another basic food ingredient like a cup of milk, which would similarly signify the nourishment of new life. 


Oranges have a long and varied history at the seder table. They can represent women and feminism or female heroines like Miriam, Moses’ sister. And certain Jewish scholars, like Susannah Heschel, have pointed out that the orange can also honor lesbians and gay men. However, you want to denote this symbol, it takes added importance as another symbol of wellness with its high levels of vitamin C.


Artichokes are another recent symbol that have been added to acknowledge interfaith marriages and all forms of inclusion. It’s been said that the Jews, who have normally been thorny about interfaith marriages, should open up the softness of their hearts. Especially during these times, when we realize how interconnected we all are, an artichoke could be a powerful symbol to add to your Seder plate. 


Olives have also become popular, even literal olive branches if you have them, as symbols that represent the hope for lasting peace in the Middle East and everywhere. 


We also love these new additions: 


Spices for the creativity and flavor we're bringing to life during our seders this year.


Root vegetables like potatoes, onions & carrots for staying grounded in difficult times.


Salt & sugar blended together for our human ability to reframe the narrative and being able to hold two different feelings in our hearts at the same time.


Canned food or dried beans to represent what’s sustaining us in these times and for how we have had to seal ourselves off from the outside.  


And, for a bit levity, a small bottle of Hand Sanitizer to the seder table, if maybe not the seder plate itself. If you feel like your family could enjoy the ironic, gallows humor, embrace it!


Click here for more seder plate ideas, or visit the 2020 Second Seder Plate from Jewish World Watch.


We’d love to hear more suggestions from you all. Please feel free to add your ideas to our Facebook Seder Planner group page!

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