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The Seder Plate: Food for Thought

When guests arrive for a Passover Seder, the ritual meal of the holiday, the first thing they notice is the seder table. A beautifully set table creates the tone for the evening. The word “table” in Hebrew is shulchan, which is composed of the words shel and chen, meaning “a place of kindness” or “a place of grace.” Through sharing meals we are able to extend kindness and grace to those who visit our homes.

However on Passover, our tables go beyond the traditional role. The seder table is brimming with symbolic foods and objects that will be used throughout the evening in order to tell the Exodus story. The focal point of the table is the seder plate, which contains six specific foods. These foods are not just physical in nature, but take on a spiritual and ritual role. This is because on Passover the table is the place where we share our story as a people, and these foods help us to do this. We speak and listen as we are nourished body and soul.

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Hebrew Words To Know

  • Taste | טעם

  • Food | אכל

  • Sweet | מתוק

  • Bitter | מר

  • To discuss | לשוחח

  • Dish | קערה