The Anatomy of a Seder Plate
Exploring the symbolism and meaning behind this age-old tradition.
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According to the Biblical narrative, the Israelites were driven out of Egypt in such haste that they did not have time to bake their dough into bread. They fled with unleavened cakes called matzo, which recall the hardship of slavery and the Jewish people’s urgent pursuit of freedom.
Where to purchase matzo: Streit’s Matzo in Orangeburg
The egg symbolizes a holiday sacrifice once offered at the Holy Temple. It also evokes the mourning over the destruction of the Temple.
Where to purchase eggs: Feather Ridge Farm in Elizaville
Maror is usually represented by grated horseradish root. It is reflective of the bitterness and harshness of the slavery that the Hebrews endured in Egypt.
Where to purchase horseradish: Yiddish Farm in New Hampton
A roasted lamb shank bone represents the Paschal sacrifice made by the Israelites on the night they fled Egypt. Some also believe that it symbolizes the outstretched arm of God.
Where to purchase lamb shank: Marbled Meat Shop in Cold Spring
This ritual, during which parsley — or another green leafy vegetable — is dipped in salt water, is done at the beginning of the Seder. Karpas represents the salty tears that the Israelites shed as slaves in Egypt; it is also emblematic of the bounty of springtime, and the initial flourishing of the Israelites.
Where to purchase leafy greens: Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt
Derived from the Hebrew word for clay, charoset is a sweet, brown mixture that symbolizes the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves when they laid bricks for monuments in Egypt.
Where to purchase local honey, nuts, and Hudson Valley apples for making charoset: Talbott & Arding Cheese & Provisions in Hudson
Chazeret is a second bitter herb, usually romaine lettuce, that holds a similar symbolic meaning as Maror.
Where to purchase lettuce: Obercreek Farm in Wappingers Falls