Besides unlimited Manischewitz and my grandpa’s Kosher for Passover mandel bread, I have to be honest and say there isn’t much about Passover that gets me jazzed. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the logic behind the 7-day bagel ban. Moses and the slaves were escaping Egypt, so no one really had a second to blink, breathe or think- let alone wait for bread loaves to rise. Could you imagine if they were like, “Hold up, Pharaoh, we’re gonna need a second so that our bread can become fluffy as we prepare for this mass exiting from your enslavement?” I don’t think so.
Amid the complaining about the ban of our weekly Baked by Melissas, our morning oatmeal and our gluten free bagels (because if it’s gluten free it certainly doesn’t mean it’s Kosher for Passover), we tend to glaze over the true MVP of the Passover holiday, everybody’s favorite guy: the seder plate.
The traditional seder plate is a staple item on every Jewish family’s Passover table and consists of: Maror (bitter herbs), Charoset (traditionally chopped nuts, apples and cinnamon), Karpas (a vegetable other than bitter herbs typically parsley or celery), Z’roa (lamb shank bone), Beitzah (a roasted hard-boiled egg) and Chazeret (lettuce). Each of the items represent a different purpose, and without them, the seder would cease to exist.
Put beautifully by Fidler on the Roof, the seder plate consists of, “Tradition!” Tradition is a wonderful thing and certainly valued across the Jewish culture, but for those looking to possibly progress and evolve their seder plates past the traditional, staple items, here are four up-and-comers that traditionalists and progressives alike should be aware of.
1. The Orange
Nope, this does not in fact represent the Florida sunshine that most of our Jewish grandparents commit to soaking up during the winter months. Rather, it is present as a symbol of inclusion. Although it originated as a symbol of incorporation for gay and lesbian jews, it has come to represent all those margianilized within the Jewish community and has become largely adopted as such by women observing the holiday.
2. Potato Peels
These peels are present on the seder plate to symbolize the lack of food available to those who suffered in the Concentration Camps during the Holocaust and the famines and hungers that still exist today.
3. Miriam’s Cup
Elijah’s Cup (not mentioned in the above staple seder plate items) is an essential at the Passover seder, but isn’t on the plate itself. Nonetheless, its presence is always highlighted and in my glory days, I was assigned the task of propping open our front door to allow Elijah himself inside our home. This new custom (Miriam’s Cup) celebrates Miriam’s role in the Jew’s deliverance from slavery. The new custom recognizes that women are equally important to the continued survival of the Jewish community. So, essentially it’s the Beyoncé of modern seder plate additions.
4. Fair Trade Chocolate
Although it wouldn’t be insane to think this addition is present simply as a safety net for all those #blessed to be experiencing PMS symptoms during the seder, this is certainly not its role. Unlike some chocolate, Fair Trade chocolate is made without the labor of child slaves. Its presence on the modern seder plate is to remind us that slavery still exists today, but its sweetness represents the possibility of liberation for all.
Dayenu ( which means “It would have been enough.” in English) perfectly describes the traditional items on the seder plate, as they are most certainly enough. However, these newer additions are kind of like dessert after a three course meal; there’s always room for more. So toss back some Manischewitz, go balls out for matzah balls and let’s do Passover better than the Rugrats did, although no one can make a better Moses than Tommy Pickles.
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Looking for ways to curb your carb-etite? Check out these great Passover recipes:
- Kosher for Passover Desserts You Can Make in Your Dorm Room
- Flourless Brownies for Passover
- Matzah Farfel Candy That Helps You Survive Passover