KARPAS and the Sedar Plate:

GUEST: The karpas, the green vegetable, is a symbol of all kinds of greenery while the salt water is the water and air of the earth. The dipping of the karpas is the first part of the seder that makes this night different from all other nights. Tonight, we celebrate difference with the karpas and saltwater which brings us hope, joy, and renewed life and helps us to remember
the ocean and green plants of the Earth, from which we get the water and air and food that enable us to live. We look forward to spring and the reawakening of flowers and greenery.

GUEST: We also know that with difference can come pain and tears. We have shed these tears ourselves and we have caused others to shed tears. Traditions of the past say we dip the karpas in salt water to remind ourselves of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery and then dipped his fabulous, technicolor dream coat into blood to bring back to their father, Jacob. Tonight, we dip the karpas into salt water, and as we taste it, we taste both the fresh, celebratory hope of difference and the painful blood and tears that have come with it.


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

(Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.)

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.

The hard-boiled egg on our Seder plate symbolizes Spring and of new life that is beginning to grow.

{{We eat a hard boiled egg}}

Katom כתום Orange


Today we also put an Orange on the symbol plate. The Orange has come to symbolize Modern Passover Rituals, designed to reflect the diversity of our community and peoples in the early 21st century. At the height of the Jewish feminist movement of the 1980s, Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, was giving a lecture. Supposedly, a Rabbi in the audience stood up and said to her, in anger,  that a woman belongs on the bimah (stage) as much as an orange belongs on the Seder plate. Even though it is possible folklore, that year many families began adding an orange to their Seder plate as a way of acknowledging the role of women in Jewish life. It also recognizes all who sometimes feel marginalized in the Jewish community.

(eat a segment of orange)



This year I thought we would try a new tradition. I've added a tomato to the sedar plate to help remind us that even now, slavery and exploitation still exists, particularly in the farming and manufacturing industries around the world as well as here in the U.S. These foods on the Sedar Plate are meant to elicit questions that lead to the story of exodus. I hope the tomato can help lead us to question the legacy of slavery today and help bring about a just and slavery-free workplace throughout the world for everyone.

(every eats a tomato)

haggadah Section: Karpas