Z'ROA - SHANKBONE -
[Roasted bone held up for all to see.]
Z'ROA Why do have a shankbone on the Seder plate?
The shankbone is symbolic of the paschal lamb, sacrifice made for Pesah in the Temple in Jerusalem. In the exodus story, the doorposts of the Jewish homes were marked with animals blood so that the angel of death would pass over their homes and not take their first-born children. The Pesah sacrifices were made each year as a symbol of that act.
MATZAH - UNLEAVENED BREAD -
MATZAH Why do we eat Matzah?
Matzah reminds us that when the ancient Israelites left Egypt
they had to leave suddenly without time to prepare.
They departed so quickly that the bread they baked did not have time to rise.
Matzah is simultaneously the bread of affliction and the bread of liberation. It reminds us of our slavery in Egypt and of its end. With this dual meaning, it reminds us to celebrate the liberation struggles we have won, and to continue fighting the oppression that remains.
MAROR - THE BITTER HERB -
[Maror held up for all to see.]
MARORWhy do we have Maror on the Seder plate? Tradition says that this bitter herb is to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. As it is said They embittered their lives with hard labor, with mortar and bricks, and with all manner of labor in the field.
BEITSAH - EGG -
[Roasted egg held up for all to see.]
BEITSAH Why do we have an egg on the Seder plate?
The egg is a symbol of life and of the rebirth that occurs each Spring.
But the egg is also fragile and so it also represents potential that can be destroyed.
Growing life needs warmth and love and security, guidance, hope, and vision. Beitsah is also a symbol of the interdependent web of life.
TAPPUZ - ORANGE -
[Orange held up for all to see.]
TAPPUZ - Why have we added an orange to our Seder plate?
This orange is a symbol of the liberation of sexuality and gender roles.
We place this fruit among our ceremonial foods as a symbol of our inclusion
and acknowledgement of sexual minorities in our community.
We recognize the contributions made by these family members and friends.
By welcoming all with open hearts and minds, we celebrate diversity and freedom.
The olive is the newest item on our seder plate. We add it as a reminder that we must all be God’s bearers of peace and hope in the world. At the same time, we eat this olive in sorrow, mindful that olive trees, the source of livelihood for Palestinian farmers, are regularly chopped down, burned and uprooted by Israeli settlers and the Israeli authorities. As we look on, Israel pursues systematic policies that increasingly deny Palestinians access to olive orchards that have belonged to them for generations. As we eat now, we ask one another: How will we, as Jews, bear witness to the unjust actions committed in our name? These olives challenge us to be bearers of peace and hope for Palestinians – and for all who are oppressed.
And, finally, why do we lean tonight?
When drinking the four cups and eating the matzah, we lean on our left side to accentuate the fact that we are free people. In ancient times only free people had the luxury of reclining while eating. We ask that this year you consider what it means to recline when so many are not yet free from oppression. This is not a simple question, and so there is no simple answer. In solidarity, you may choose not to recline. Or perhaps we can rest tonight in order to let go of the weight of our fears — our fear of others; of being visible as Jews; of committing to work outside of what is familiar and comfortable — so that we may lean into struggle tomorrow.
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