The Seder Plate

The Seder Plate contains the symbols of the holiday and is usually located near the seder's facilitators, The various symbols vary somewhat from culture to culture. Besides the seder Plate, portions of wine, salt water, major, kappas, charoset, and matzah should be available for all participants.

Zeroah (shankbone of lamb or chicken) – symbolizing the sacrifice made at the great temple on Passover (The Paschal Lamb). A beet is often used as a vegetarian substitute.

Karpas (greens such as parsley or celery) – a reminder of the green sprouting up all around us during spring and is used to dip into the saltwater

Maror (bitter herbs, usually horseradish) – symbolizes the harshness of lives of the Jews in Egypt.

Charoset (Ashkenazim* often use a mixture of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon. Sephardim usually prefer dates, raisins, figs, and oranges) – resembles the mortar used as bricks of the many buildings the Jewish slaves built in Egypt

Beitzah (hard-boiled egg) – The egg symbolizes a different holiday offering that was brought to the temple. It symbolizes Springtime fertility. And like the egg which hardens when boiled, so do an oppressed people harden their resolve for freedom.

Orange - The orange on the seder plate has come to symbolize full inclusion in modern day Judaism: not only for women, but also for people with disabilities, intermarried couples, and the LGBT Community.

Salt Water - represents the tears of slavery


Matzah is the unleavened bread we eat to remember that when the jews fled Egypt, they didn’t even have time to let the dough rise on their bread. We commemorate this by removing all bread and bread products from our home during Passover.

Elijah’s Cup

The fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the Seder. It is left untouched in honor of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. During the Seder dinner, biblical verses are read while the door is briefly opened to welcome Elijah. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but also calls to mind their future redemption when Elijah and the Messiah shall appear.

* Ashkenazim - Jews from Germany and eastern Europe Sephardim  - decedents of Jews who lived in Spain or Portugal before the expulsion in 1492. Most went to North Africa or the Middle East. 

haggadah Section: Introduction