The Seder Ritual: The Seder Plate

Martha Stewart Living, April 2001

Many of the foods on the Passover table are steeped in symbolism. The centerpiece of the seder table is the k'arah, or ceremonial plate, that contains symbolic foods, some which are eaten during the seder. Here are the items that are included on the seder plate (left, clockwise from top):

Often a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon, represents the mortar that the Israelites used to build the pyramids and the sweetness of the Jews' freedom. During the seder, small sandwiches made of matzo and charoset are eaten. This is known as a Hillel sandwich, after the rabbi who originated the practice.

A bitter herb, usually represented by horseradish, is eaten to remember the bitterness of life in slavery.

Another bitter herb, here represented with romaine lettuce, is also used in the Hillel sandwich.

A roasted shank bone, commemorates both ancient sacrifice and the mark made with lamb's blood on the Jewish slaves' doorposts.

A green vegetable or herb, often parsley, is dipped in salt water, which represents the tears of the slaves.

An egg traditionally symbolizes mourning and renewal. It is hard-boiled or roasted to represent how slavery strengthened the Jewish people.

Return to The Seder Ritual.
Return to The Seder Ritual: The Order of the Seder.


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