Passover Foods of Faith and Freedom
Passover celebrates freedom. At Passover we have a feast called the Seder to demonstrate that we are no longer slaves and can eat and celebrate as we choose. We use specific foods to illustrate the story of the Exodus as well as traditional foods during the actual Seder meal and throughout the week of Passover. While each Jewish community has their own specific foods that are served during the Passover there is one thing all the foods on every Seder table have in common – they are kosher for Passover.
Kosher for Passover
At Passover Jewish law forbids eating leavened or fermented grain products. However, it is also forbidden to eat foods made with regular wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats as it is impossible to know if these these grains came into contact with water or other leavening agents. Foods labeled “Kosher for Passover” have been meticulously supervised by rabbis to ensure they have not mixed with moisture in production.
The Seder Plate
At the head of every Seder table is a beautiful Seder Plate. Arranged on the Seder Plate is six traditional foods each one representing part of the Passover Story.
Zeroah or a roasted shank bone reminds us of the Passover sacrifice that was brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This item is not eaten.
Beitzah or hardboiled egg represents the Temple Passover festival offering.
Maror, horseradish root, symbolizes the suffering and bitterness of slavery.
Charoset is a sticky mixture of chopped apples, nuts and sweet wine that resembles mortar and reminds us of the forced labor of slavery.
Karpas is a vegetable that is dipped in to salt water during the Seder, usually parsley, celery or boiled potato. The symbolism is in the salt water which represents the tears shed while in slavery.
Chazeret is a bitter herb such as romaine lettuce or arugula and eaten between two pieces of matzah as commanded in Numbers 9:11. It reminds us of the severity of a life lived in slavery.
Other Passover foods
In addition to the symbolic foods on the Seder plate there are the foods we eat for the Seder meal and throughout the entire Passover holiday. Chicken soup with matzah balls is probably one of the most common foods of Passover. Every family seems to have their own matzah ball recipe and each thinks theirs is the best! Another well known food is gefilte fish. These are poached fish patties made with onion and matzah meal. A delicious Passover dish is matzah brei. It is similar to making French toast only with matzah. It is can be served with jam, date syrup or Israeli chocolate spread. These are just a few ideas to get you excited about the food of Passover.
In the spirit of Passover freedom, you should feel free to come up with new foods for your Seder meal. They should have meaning for you and your family making your Seder more personal and deeper spiritual connection.
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