We begin by explaining each of the objects in front of us.
ROASTED SHANKBONE (Dinosaur)
One of the most striking symbols of Passover is the roasted lamb shankbone, which commemorates the lamb sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Note: a dinosaur is used here because we most often interact with dinosaurs through their bones.
MAROR (BITTER HERB)
Horseradish bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The Seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but we are called to look at our own bitter enslavements.
There’s nothing further from maror than charoset (“cha-ROH-set”), the sweet salad of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon that represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks.
Karpas is a green vegetable, usually parsley. Karpas symbolizes the freshness of spring.
Salt water symbolizes the tears and sweat of enslavement, though paradoxically, it’s also a symbol for purity, springtime, and the sea.
The tradition of putting an orange on the seder plate in is a response to a myth about rabbi who told a young girl that a woman belongs on a bimah (where the torah is read) as much as an orange on a Seder plate. The orange is now said to be a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, whatever their sexuality or gender identity.
The 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 was performed in the days of the Second Temple.
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.
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. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but reminds us of the future.
Another relatively new Passover tradition is that of Miriam’s cup. The cup is filled with water and placed next to Elijah’s cup. Miriam was a prophetess and also the sister of Moses. After the exodus when the Israelites are wandering through the desert, just as Hashem gave them Manna to eat, legend says that a well of water followed Miriam and it was called ‘Miriam’s Well’. The tradition of Miriam’s cup is meant to honor Miriam’s role in the story of the Jewish people and the spirit of all women, who nurture their communities just as Miriam helped sustain the Israelites.
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