Passover Seder plate

The Passover Seder plate (Hebrew: קערה, ke'ara) is a special plate containing symbolic foods eaten or displayed at the Passover Seder. It is used to show all the symbolic foods that are used for the Passover Seder.[1]

Symbolic foods

Each of the six items arranged on the plate has special significance to the retelling of the story of Passoverthe exodus from Egypt—which is the focus of this ritual meal. A seventh symbolic item used during the meal—the three matzos—is not considered part of the seder plate proper.

Passover Seder plate. Categories (with imaged examples in brackets): edit
1. Zeroa (shankbone)
2. Beitza (roasted hard-boiled egg)
3. Maror/Chazeret (horseradish)
4. Maror/Chazeret (onion)
5. Charoset
6. Karpas (parsley)

The six traditional items on the Seder Plate are as follows:

Maror and Chazeret

Maror and Chazeret[2] – Bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery that the Hebrews endured in Egypt. In Ashkenazi tradition, fresh romaine lettuce or endives (both representing the bitterness of the Roman invasions) or horseradish may be eaten as Maror in the fulfilment of the mitzvah of eating bitter herbs during the Seder. Chazeret are additional bitter herbs, usually romaine lettuce, that are used in the korech sandwich.[1]


Charoset – A sweet, brown mixture representing the mortar and brick used by the Hebrew slaves to build the structures of Egypt. In Ashkenazi Jewish homes, Charoset is traditionally made from chopped nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and sweet red wine.[1]


Karpas – A vegetable other than bitter herbs representing hope and renewal, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley or another green vegetable.[3] Some substitute parsley to slice of green onion (representing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt) or potato (representing the bitterness of the ghetto in Germany and in other European countries), both commonly used. The dipping of a simple vegetable into salt water and the resulting dripping of water off of said vegetables visually represents tears and is a symbolic reminder of the pain felt by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Usually, in a Shabbat or holiday meal, the first thing to be eaten after the kiddush over wine is bread. At the Seder table, however, the first thing to be eaten after the kiddush is a vegetable. This leads immediately to the recital of the famous question, Ma Nishtana—"Why is this night different from all other nights?" It also symbolizes the springtime, because Jews celebrate Passover in the spring.[3]


Zeroa – Also transliterated Z'roa, this is typically a roasted lamb shank bone. It is special as it is the only element of meat on the Seder Plate, symbolizing the Korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice), or Pascal Lamb. It symbolizes the sacrifice of a lamb whose blood was painted on the doorway of Israelite slaves' houses so that the angel of death would pass over that house during the tenth plague.[4]


Beitza – A roasted egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered at the Temple in Jerusalem, is then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Although both the Pesach sacrifice and the chagigah were meat offerings, the chagigah is commemorated by an egg, a symbol of mourning (as eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a funeral), evoking the idea of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the inability to offer the biblically mandated sacrifices for the Pesach holiday. The use of an egg in the seder is first attested in the 16th-century Shulchan Aruch commentary of Rabbi Moses Isserles, and it is not known when the custom began.[5] It is not used during the formal part of the seder. Some people eat a regular hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water or vinegar as part of the first course of the meal, or as an appetizer. The egg also represents the circle of life: birth, reproduction, and death.[5]

Sterling silver seder plate

Many decorative and artistic Seder plates sold in Judaica stores have pre-formed spaces for inserting the various symbolic foods.

Table set for the seder with a seder plate, salt water, matza, kosher wine and a copy of the Haggadah for each guest

Three Matzot

The sixth symbolic item on the Seder table is a plate of three whole matzot, which are stacked and separated from each other by cloths or napkins. The middle matzah will be broken and half of it put aside for the afikoman. The top and another half of the middle matzot will be used for the hamotzi (blessing over bread), and the bottom matzah will be used for the korech (Hillel sandwich).

According to one common interpretation, the three matzot represent "Kohen, Levi and Yisrael" (i.e., the priests, the tribe of Levi, and all other Jewish people).[6]

Salt water

A bowl of salt water, which is used for the first "dipping" of the Seder, is not traditionally part of the Seder Plate but is placed on the table beside it. However, it sometimes is used as one of the six items, omitting chazeret. The salt water represents the tears of the Israelites when they were enslaved.

Additional Customs

Passover Seder plate including an orange.

Modern Advocacy

In fact, the tradition began when Heschel spoke at Hillel at Oberlin College, where she saw an early feminist haggadah that included Susan Fielding's short story about a young Jewish lesbian told by her Hasidic rebbe that "there is as much place for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for hametz at the seder table."[9] Heschel felt, as did those women at Oberlin, that putting bread on the Seder plate would mean accepting the idea that lesbian and gay Jews are as incompatible with Judaism as chametz is with Passover. At her next Seder, she used an orange as a symbol of inclusion for lesbians, gays, and others who are marginalized by the Jewish community. Participants eat a segment of the orange, spitting out the seeds as a symbol of rejecting homophobia.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Seder Preparations - Jewish Tradition". Retrieved 2024-03-30.
  2. ^ Thus explained in Rabbi Hai Gaon's Commentary on Mishnah Uktzin 1:2 [3]; Sefer Arukh, s.v. חזרת; Mishnah Commentary of Rabbi Nathan, President of the Academy, s.v. Mishnah Kila'im 1:2; Zohar Amar, Flora and Fauna in Maimonides' Teachings, Kefar Darom 2015, p. 77 OCLC 783455868[Hebrew].
  3. ^ a b A Passover Haggadah: As Commented Upon by Elie Wiesel and Illustrated by Mark Podwal (Simon & Schuster, 1993, ISBN 0671799967)
  4. ^ "The Ten Plagues - A summary of the ten plagues God wrought upon the Egyptians". Chabad.
  5. ^ a b Gilad, Elon (April 4, 2021). "Do Passover Eggs and Easter Eggs Have a Shared Origin?". Haaretz.
  6. ^ ""Preparing for Passover and the Seder," the Jewish Virtual Library". Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  7. ^ Hamburger, Rav Binyomin Shlomo (2009). "Guide to Minhag Ashkenaz". Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz.
  8. ^ Cohen, Tamara. "An Orange on the Seder Plate". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  9. ^ Eisehnbach-Budner, Deborah; Borns-Weil, Alex (22 August 2010). "The Background to the Background of the Orange on the Seder Plate and a Ritual of Inclusion". Ritualwell. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  10. ^ Appell, Victor. "Why do some people include an orange on the seder plate?". Union for Reform Judaism. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  11. ^ Micah Bazant; Dara Silverman (2003). "Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah".
  12. ^ "For the discussions we didn't have: An Olive on the Seder Plate this weekend in NY · Jewschool". 3 October 2006.
  13. ^ "Non-traditional items showing up on Seder plates". The Jerusalem Post. Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  14. ^ "What Exactly Goes On A Seder Plate?". 18Doors. 2019-01-12. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  15. ^ "Non-traditional items showing up on Seder plates". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  16. ^ "Why Are There Olives on the Seder Plate?". Rabbi Elli Sarah. 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  17. ^ flickr, CeresB via (18 March 2013). "Put Olive on Seder Plate for Palestinians and All Oppressed Peoples". The Forward. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  18. ^ "Olives on the Seder Plate | Passover Haggadah by Susan Walker". Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  19. ^ "10 Unique Items to Add to Your Seder Plate". Kveller. 2019-04-16. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  20. ^ Fishkoff, Sue (April 12, 2011). "From oranges to artichokes, chocolate and olives, using seder plate as a call to action". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
  21. ^ "The Seder Plate". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2021-03-23.