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Understanding the Significance of Passover's Symbolic Foods

Understanding the Significance of Passover's Symbolic Foods

Understanding the Significance of Passover's Symbolic Foods

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.


  1. 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.)
  2. Remember that the roasted egg, also placed on the plate, symbolizes an additional offering made at holidays in biblical times.
  3. Karpas - the green herb or vegetable (usually parsley) - represents spring and new life.
  4. Remember the bitterness of slavery with maror, a bitter herb usually represented with horseradish, but sometimes with romaine lettuce.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.


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