Happy Passover

If you’re anything like me, over the last week or so you’ve noticed some changes creeping up in your house. It’s getting a little cleaner, boxes of matzah are appearing, and all of a sudden you (or your parents) are running around looking for Seder plates, nice table cloths, and Passover-friendly chocolate chips (or maybe that last part is just me…).

Passover is one of the most complex holidays in the Jewish calendar. It has so many different components – there’s the traditional Seder, when families, friends, and communities get together to retell the story of the Exodus. It’s also a holiday celebrating Spring. It used to be one of the three pilgrimage holidays, when Jews would go to Jerusalem. The Seder itself has so many components that it becomes challenging to pick one to focus on.

One of my favorite things about Passover, and specifically about the Seder, is that because there are so many pieces to it, there are countless opportunities to make it your own. There are traditionally five symbolic foods on a Seder plate – maror (bitter herbs), charoset, karpas (a green vegetable), the shank bone, and a roasted egg. Each of these foods plays a specific role in the Seder, along with the accompanying versus and prays that many families recite, comprising the rituals in the annual Seder tradition.

But while tradition is great, sometimes it’s also wonderful to add new, modern, personal touches to the traditions. These are the ways that we can keep growing our traditions, by exploring new ways to make them relevant to our lives. So, here are some ideas of things that you can add to your Seder plate:

  1. An orange – some people choose to put an orange on their Seder plates to represent people who have been marginalized within the Jewish community (women, LGBTQ individuals, etc.).
  2. A potato – in 1991, a modern exodus occurred, when Israel launched Operation Solomon, and airlifted Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Many of these Jews arrived starving, so the only things that they were able to digest were small boiled potatoes. Include potatoes at your Seder as a reminder about a modern exodus experience.
  3. Fair trade chocolate – this product represents awareness that there are still people in the world who are used as forced labor. By including fair trade products, we remember that this form of slavery still exists today.
  4. An olive – representing the wish for peace in the Middle East.

Wishing you a zissen Pesach – a happy Passover!