An Introduction to the Seder Plate

The Seder Plate is called ke'ara (קערה) in Hebrew is a special plate containing symbolic foods eaten or displayed at the Passover Seder.

Matzo - We have three matzot, so that we can break one (as a slave would), and still have two whole matzot over which to recite the Hamotzi blessing (as required on Shabbat and holidays). The matzot are symbolic of the three groups of Jews: Priests, Levites and Israelites. They also commemorate the three measures of fine flour that Abraham told Sarah to bake into matzah when they were visited by the three angels (Genesis 18:6).

Charoseth - Charoset is the mortar that holds our house together. We are reminded of our interconnectedness as diverse people, with differing drives of how we each personally affect change in the world. By listening to and supporting each other, we are listened to and supported by others.

Shank bone - The shank bone historically was used as God commanded to paint the doorways of the Jewish households with lamb’s blood so that the Holy Spirit would passover those homes and spare God’s people from his plagues. This blood flows through us all. We celebrate our similarities while honoring the rich cultures and traditions of our many differences. Many ethnic communities are imagined, incorrectly, as homogenous cultures. For those of us who are Jewish, we remind ourselves that Jews come in all hues, from all corners of the world. For those of us who are Black, we know that Blackness is rooted in many different nationalities, ethnicities, and histories. We must celebrate our individuality, our cultures, and our commonalities. “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -Audre Lourde

Bitter herb (Maror) - The bitter herb reminds us of the bitterness inside all of us. We live in a diverse society that infects us with both goodness and bad experiences. We are reminded to call attention to any prejudiced ideas we carry inside us, though we may not realize, and uproot them.

Egg - The egg in its shell reminds us that we can choose how we identify ourselves, but we can’t always choose how the world sees us. When others assume things about us that don’t agree with our concept of ourselves, or when people cannot see an identity that we hold close to our hearts, we feel dehumanized. Tonight, we commit to celebrating everyone as they wish to identify.

Karpas (Parsley & Salt Water) - We eat this vegetable as a symbol of the arrival of spring. We dip them in salt water to remind us of the tears our ancestors shed during the years of slavery and oppression in Egypt.

Orange - Famously, Rabbis refused the feminist movement saying, “a woman belongs on the bimah [in a leadership position in the congregation, or reading from the Torah] as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.” The orange now symbolizes the fruitfulness for all Jews when all are contributing and active members of Jewish life: women, the LGBT community, interfaith couples, people with disabilities, and non religious people. Each orange segment has a few seeds that have to be spit out - a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the misogyny, homophobia, and exclusivity of Judaism.

haggadah Section: Introduction