Breaking News

Seder Basics

By Elke Probkevitz

Every Jewish holiday is in some way surrounded by food, and on Passover the Seder is the main attraction. The Seder plate is the centerpiece of the table, with symbolic foods that guide us through the story and history behind our Passover rituals. Here is a brief explanation, with some information courtesy of Wikipedia, of what foods are included in the Seder and what they are there for.

Matzah. There are three matzahs that are kept separate but stacked and covered. The matzah is an obvious symbol of the bread that did not have a chance to leaven when Bnei Yisrael left Egypt. It symbolizes the faith that our forefathers had when leaving Egypt, trusting in G‑d to sustain them in the desert. We eat the matzah by motzi matzah, by korech, and by the afikoman at the end of the meal.

Karpas. This item varies depending on your custom. Karpas is some sort of vegetable, either parsley or potato. It symbolizes the Jewish people flourishing when they first lived in Egypt and can also symbolize spring, as Passover is chag haAviv. The karpas is dipped in salt water to symbolize the tears that were shed in Egypt. Karpas is placed to the left of the chazeret.

Charoset. A mixture of fruits, wine, honey, and nuts, charoset symbolizes the mortar, or literally the clay, used to build in Egypt. It usually is made with apples, and sometimes dates and figs are incorporated. The charoset is placed at the bottom of the Seder plate to the right of the chazeret.

Maror. Literally meaning bitter, the bitter herbs take us back to experience just a little of the pain and bitterness of the slavery that our ancestors felt. The most common food used is horseradish root, but sometimes bitter lettuce is used instead or together with the horseradish. Maror is dipped into the charoset to combine the two, since the work of slavery caused so much bitterness and pain. The maror is placed in the middle of the Seder plate.

Chazeret. Also a bitter herb, chazeret is used to make a sandwich by korech. We place bitter herbs, usually pieces of horseradish root, between two pieces of matzah. Sometimes charoset and bitter lettuce is added as well. The chazeret is placed at the bottom center of the Seder plate.

Z’roa. This is a shank bone that symbolizes the korban Pesach that the Jewish people sacrificed in the time of the Beit HaMikdash. Even though we do not use this during the Seder, it is a reminder of the sacrifice they offered before leaving Egypt. It is placed at the top right of the Seder plate.

Beizah. An egg that is roasted is a symbol of the cycle of life, which shows us that even when times are bad for the Jewish people, there is still hope for things to come around and get better. It is also a symbol of the korban chagigah offered on the holidays during the time of Beit HaMikdash. Many people dip the egg in salt water as well. It is placed at the top left of the Seder plate.



20 oz. pitted dates, roughly chopped

10 oz. blanched almonds, roughly chopped

10 oz. walnuts, roughly chopped

¼ cup toasted pine nuts or pistachios, chopped

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ cup sweet red wine


In large mixing bowl, combine dates, almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts or pistachios. Grate apples and add to nut mixture. In small bowl, combine cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pepper; mix. Add spices to large bowl and pour in enough wine to just bind the mixture together. Place in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to, or visiting

Please ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Jewish Content

Posted by on March 21, 2013. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.