The Seder Plate
We place a Seder Plate at our table as a reminder to discuss certain aspects of the Passover story. Each item has its own significance.
Maror – The bitter herb. This symbolizes the harshness of the suffering the Jews faced in Egypt. This can be expanded upon to represent the existing suffering and harshness marginalized communities face today.
Charoset – A delicious mix of sweet wine, apples, cinnamon and nuts that resembles the mortar used as bricks of the many buildings the Jewish slaves built in Egypt. Charoset balances the bitterness of Maror representing the hope and potential the future holds.
Karpas – A green vegetable, usually parsley, is a reminder of the green sprouting up all around us during spring and is used to dip into the saltwater. The saltwater represents the tears and sweat of Jews when they were slaves in Egypt. The saltwater also represents our tireless efforts to fight injustice and oppression.
Zeroah – A roasted lamb or shank bone symbolizing the sacrifice made at the great temple on Passover right before the Jews fled they tyranny and oppression they faced in Egypt.
Beitzah – The egg symbolizes both life and the journey of the Jewish people out of Egypt. When the Jewish People left Egypt they were just like an unhatched egg. Free from the prison of Egypt and the constraints of slavery who have been freed from the place they were previously couped.
Orange - The orange on the seder plate has come to symbolizes the strong women of our communities. The orange's meaning has expanded over time to represent the full inclusion of not only for women, but all people. (Pass around cut orange slices for eat attendee to eat). We eat this orange as a gesture of solidarity with all marginalized people. We spit out the orange seeds, as they represent systems of marginalization (i.e. sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia...)
Olives -The olive branch is a universal symbol of peace. This year, we have olives on our seder plate to remind us that not only are we not free until everyone is free, but we are not free until there is peace in our homes, in our community and in our world.
Fair Trade Chocolate - The fair trade movement promotes economic partnerships based on equality, justice and sustainable environmental practices. We have a role in the process by making consumer choices that promote economic fairness for those who produce our products around the globe. Fair Trade certified chocolate and coca beans are grown under standards that prohibit the use of forced labor.
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. 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.
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 the sister of Moses and a prophetess in her own right. 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 families just as Miriam helped sustain the Israelites.
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