Each of the foods eaten at the start of a Passover seder is emblematic of the Jews' slavery in Egypt and their exodus to freedom. Read on to discover what each food symbolizes.
- Here's one recipe for charoset. Consider it merely a starting point and vary it with your own favorite fruits, nuts and spices. Shred 4 medium apples (2 tart and 2 sweet). Add 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds, 1/4 cup sweet wine or grape juice, 1/4 cup dry wine (optional) and 1 tbsp. cinnamon. Mix everything together. Let the mixture sit for 3 to 6 hours.
- Note the roasted shank bone - placed on the leader's plate or on the seder plate - which represents the lamb that in former times was sacrificed in the temple on Passover. (This custom is no longer followed.)
- Remember that the roasted egg, also placed on the plate, symbolizes an additional offering made at holidays in biblical times.
- Karpas - the green herb or vegetable (usually parsley) - represents spring and new life.
- Remember the bitterness of slavery with maror, a bitter herb usually represented with horseradish, but sometimes with romaine lettuce.
- Charoset, a paste-like mixture of fruits, nuts and wine (a delicious concoction, for which there are many recipes) stands for the mortar Jewish slaves used to construct buildings.
- Keep in mind that matzah - a flat, unleavened, cracker-like bread - serves as a reminder of the haste with which the Jews left Egypt: they had no time to wait for leavened bread to rise.
Keep in mind that Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews observe Jewish holidays, traditions and customs in different ways.