What Goes On a Seder Plate and How To Make It?

Seder Plate Meaning

The Passover seder plate displays the symbols talked about in the story of Passover as told in the Haggadah.

Some families have a central seder plate on the table, while others make more than one so that every participant can see the symbols in front of them as the story unfolds.

Ritual foods that help narrate the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt and the account of the ancient rabbis who wrote the Haggadah. All the symbolic foods bring the story alive and the plate itself looks like an artistic centerpiece for everyone to enjoy.

Feel free to use any plate, though you can buy (or make!) your very own seder plate with separate compartments to keep foods from mixing.

seder plate

What Items Goes On a Seder Plate

So, what’s on it?

KARPAS: A vegetable, often parsley, symbolizing spring and rebirth.

BAYTZAH: Roasted egg. The egg also represents spring and the birth of the Jewish people after they fled slavery. The roasting recalls the Passover sacrifice brought to the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times.

CHAROSET: Typically a mixture of fruits and nuts, many families and Jewish cultures have their own versions. Symbolizes the mortar that the Israelite slaves used to make bricks.

ZEROA: Roasted bone that also represents the Passover offering. Many vegetarians use a roasted beet instead.

MAROR: Bitter herbs (often horseradish), symbolizing the bitterness of slavery.

CHAZERET: Most seder plates have an additional place for another bitter vegetable to symbolize slavery, often Romaine lettuce.

Can’t find all of these items? Try drawing a picture of them for your plate or get creative with substitutions.

Some people also add items to their seder plates that symbolize contemporary issues related to oppression, justice and inclusion. Personalizing your plate with things you care about is an opportunity to express your family’s unique values and relationship to Passover.

Common Seder Plate Additions

  • An orange on the seder plate to include the Jewish LGBTQ community was an idea Dr. Susannah Heschel initiated in the 1980s. She shared the custom with her own guests and it quickly spread to other homes, and so the orange was said to represent the inclusion of women in Jewish ritual life.
  • Olives are sometimes included as a call for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Fair trade coffee or cocoa can represent forced child labor in these industries. Tomatoes or other produce can represent the plight of farm workers.
  • Artichokes for interfaith families. Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael suggests this prickly vegetable “stands for the wisdom of God’s creation in making the Jewish people a population able to absorb many elements and cultures throughout the centuries—yet still remain Jewish.” Some people find this to be negative and not positive. What item would you like to add to the seder plate to represent your interfaith family?

Is there a food that represents where your family came from or your unique cultural or culinary history? What other additions to the seder plate would be meaningful to you to symbolize freedom, justice and your identities and the identities of your family?

What’s on the table, but not necessarily on the plate?

MATZAH (plural: MATZOT): This flat, unleavened bread represents both “the bread of affliction” the Israelites had to eat when they were slaves in Egypt as well as “the bread of freedom” they ate when there was no time for the bread to rise when they fled Egypt.

SALT WATER: Symbolizes the tears of the Israelite slaves. The karpas (vegetable) is dipped in salt water near the beginning of the seder. Some people also dip a hard-boiled egg in salt water at the start of the meal.

Need more information about Passover? Return to our Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families

Need recipe help? Check here.


18Doors

18Doors is here to support interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish life. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship provides offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have questions, please contact info@18doors.org.

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Author: 18Doors