While the items on a seder plate may seem set in stone, substitutions have always been part of the Jewish experience. Potatoes and Onions have been used in place of spring greens since the Jewish diaspora reached Eastern Europe, and vegetarians have used blood-red beets instead of shank bones. Grocery stores today are internationalized, but how could we reimagine a seder plate filled with items our Asian ancestors could have found easily?

Lamb Shankbone (Zeroah)
The roasted shank bone commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Some say it symbolizes the outstretched arm of G-d (zeroah can also mean “arm”). Lamb is a popular meat choice in Central Asia and India, where other red meats may be less popular for religious reasons.

Wasabi (Maror)
Wasabi brings tears to the eyes and recalls the bitterness of slavery.

Yu Choy (Hazaret)
Yu Choy is a second bitter herb, usually a leafy green, used in korech or the Hillel sandwich. Many Jews do not include Hazeret on the seder plate, and instead, use maror for all rituals involving bitterness. 

Matzah reminds us of the sacrifices our elders, Asian and Jewish alike had to make when relocating from a homeland to a new and unknown destination. 

Apple Chutney (Charoset)
A chutney of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon. Coming from the Hebrew word cheres, meaning
“clay,” it represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks. Chutneys can be customized to incorporate a variety of different ingredients beyond the traditional four.

Cilantro (Karpas)
Cilantro, a common herb in all Asian cuisine, symbolizes the freshness of spring and the initial flourishing of the Israelites during their first years in Egypt.

Maekbanseok Eggs (Baytsah)
In Korea, eggs are sometimes prepared in the “Maekbanseok” style, which involves baking the eggs on elvan stone, giving the eggs a rich brown color and a nutty taste. The roasted egg is a symbol in many different cultures, usually signifying springtime and renewal. Here it stands in place of one of the sacrificial offerings which were performed in the days of the Second Temple. 

This fruit native to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand is known for its strong odor and spiky exterior. Here, it symbolizes a rejection of the model minority myth.

These tropical Chinese fruits are known for their sweet, fleshy interiors. Here, it symbolizes summer and the importance of self-care in preserving Asian futures.

This traditional Korean dish is made of salted and fermented vegetables. Here, it symbolizes Asian-American resilience and rage.

haggadah Section: Introduction
Source: LUNAR Haggadah 2022