Oh hello again, friends! Apparently, time flies when you’re writing for Emily’s blog. The last time I was here, we were just preparing for Hanukkah…and now it’s nearly spring. Whaaaa?!
Anyway, just in case we didn’t have a chance to meet back in December, allow me to quickly reintroduce myself: I’m Rebekah Lowin, and I run a Jewish-focused lifestyle blog, aptly titled RebekahLowin.com (find it on Instagram here). On the site, I share crafty, creative ideas for beautifying Jewish holidays and everyday life—everything from DIYs to home décor and new twists on old-school recipes. I’m incredibly passionate about it, and so grateful to the EHD team for giving me a chance to share some of that world with all of you.
Today I’m here to chat with you about—you guessed it!—Passover. And I’m pretty excited about that, because celebrating this special holiday is one of my favorite things in the world, right up there with sour candy and Meg Ryan movies. I’m aware that not everyone celebrates Passover, of course, but I hope you’ll hang out with me for a minute regardless. No matter who you are, I think you’ll find some of this really interesting and beautiful.
So…let’s dive in! It’s easy enough to tell you what Passover is—an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorated with a holiday meal known as a “seder” that focuses on themes like freedom, tradition, and faith. I mean, a quick Google search yields as much. What’s a little more difficult to explain is what Passover feels like. But I’ll try.
You know that magical feeling when the lights go down just before a performance begins, and the violins are tuning, and you’re sitting there clutching the program and a box of chocolate-covered raisins in anticipation of something really, really special?
Yes. Well, that’s exactly how Passover always feels to me—incredibly special and meaningful, gloriously theatrical, and filled with all sorts of anticipatory feelings. (Namely, hunger. The seder is notoriously long, and you have to wait to eat the real meal until after all the ceremonial stuff is done. By the time the delicious assortment of traditional food does arrive, you are ready for it).
Oh, and sometimes you’re asked to jump up onstage and join in. So to speak.
And…sorry, ma’am, but you’re actually going to have to wait to eat those chocolate-covered raisins until after the show.
(As I said. Lots of hunger.)
Really, though, it’s hard to talk about Passover without mentioning the sheer theater of it all. After all, the entire point of the seder is to re-tell the Passover story from a script of sorts known as a haggadah. We even take on roles: There’s usually an obvious “director,” someone wise and all-knowing who sits at the head of the table and makes sure we’re all on the right page, reading the right thing…and that Great-Aunt Sasha isn’t holding her haggadah upside-down again.
(It’s okay, Sasha. You’re doing great.)
And though the cast of principal actors varies from family to family, there are a few characters you’re likely to encounter at any seder. The youngest person in the group typically recites the “Four Questions,” the most musical leads a rollicking “Dayenu,” and the funniest (or hungriest, as it were) provides much-needed comic relief as the hours pass, making joke after joke about the fact that we still haven’t eaten anything.
There’s one other thing that stays the same, no matter which production you’re attending: the set pieces, i.e. the incredibly beautiful ritual objects that have decorated the seder table for thousands of years. And the most significant of these is undoubtedly the seder plate. You can think of this as a sort of symbolic centerpiece, filled with six not-for-actually-eating ingredients that serve as metaphors to represent various aspects of the Passover story. While some seder plates are heirloom pieces passed down “l’dor va-ador” (“from generation to generation”), in recent years, many young families have looked to revamp their current Judaica set with newer pieces. This, plus the advent of online shopping and the general accessibility offered by the internet, has led to what might be seen as a Judaica renaissance. Exciting!
But where does one begin when looking to buy a new seder plate—or even just dreamily window shop for one?
I’d start by saying: Don’t overthink it. Just select something that really speaks to your personal style; something that you’re naturally drawn to. From there, remember that this item might, in fact, remain in your family for generations to come (noooo pressure!), so splurging a little within your means to get a handmade or otherwise high-quality, thoughtfully made product might be a nice idea. Then again, there are plenty of stunning, special seder plates to be found within any budget—so don’t let that be a deterring factor here.
Beyond that, this should just be fun. There are so many fabulous options out there to choose from, and it can be exciting to poke around online simply to see how varied and creative the selection is nowadays. I do want to give a shout-out to The Jewish Museum—in their shop, they’ve got a gorgeous, finely curated selection of seder plates from some of the most well-known and renowned Judaica artists in the world. (Actually, all of the seder plates you see in the images here can be purchased in their digital store.) But beautiful, artisan-crafted seder plates are all over the web right now, and they can also be found at your local Judaica shop. Really, the options are endless, and they represent the extraordinary diversity and vitality of the global Jewish community.
What’s more, shopping for a seder plate, whether for your own family or for a friend, is just one of many easy, important ways to support the Jewish community at large. And because these items are featured so prominently during the holiday meal, shopping with care and thoughtfulness offers a real opportunity to enhance and elevate your entire Passover experience.
Here are a few other ideas—for both the real-life shoppers and window shoppers among you:
1. The Seder Plate | 2. Blush Seder Plate | 3. Modern Ceramic Seder Plate | 4. Blue Watercolor Porcelain Seder Plate | 5. Futura Seder Plate | 6. Ren•Vois Seder Plate Set | 7. White Seder Plate | 8. Splatter Paint Seder Plate | 9. Judaica Passover Seder Plate | 10. Glazed Clay Seder Plate| 11. Blue Stoneware Star of David Seder Plate| 12. Blue Trim Porcelain Seder Plate | 13. Williams-Sonoma Seder Plate Set | 14. Nora Pottery Art Seder Plate | 15. Pink & Gray Ceramic Seder Plate
Alright, let’s start with the plates you’ve already been eyeing: the ones in the photos here! The stunning Isabel Halley Ceramics version (#1) is a personal favorite. I just love the organic look of the whole thing, the subtle dimpling, and of course the gold rim. But the splatter paint plate (#8) holds an equally special place in my heart. It’s beyond cool—lightweight, delightfully imperfect, with some obvious handcrafted details. Meanwhile, the earthy clay seder plate (#10) is an excellent choice for those who prefer a more subtle look, and the pink and watercolor blue seder plates (#2 and #4) would look beautiful on any modern seder table. Finally, I thought the star-shaped stoneware plate (#11) could be a fabulous idea for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of all of those extra bowls.
Minimalists will appreciate that soft blue modern seder plate (#6), purists will gush over the new option here from Williams-Sonoma (#13), and New Yorkers, I think you’re going to love that all-black option from Etsy seller Bini Naor (#3). There’s really something for everyone here.
Okay, all, I think that’s it for today! I hope this little shopping adventure got you excited for the upcoming holiday—or taught you something new about it. Whether or not you’re going to be sitting around a seder table this year, there’s so much to appreciate about this exquisite holiday—from the lessons it teaches us about freedom to the fascinating, history-laden artifacts you see here. (And the food, of course. Matzah ball soup for the win!) I’m wishing you all a beautiful, safe, warm season ahead.
P.S. If you’re looking for even more inspiration, you can always check out my blog or follow along on Instagram—on both platforms, we’re talking about Passover all day, every day. I’ve got you covered with Passover dessert ideas, a single-serving mug cookie that’ll cure your Passover cravings, the cutest heart-shaped matzah ball soup, tips on hosting a virtual seder, edible place cards, lots of inspiring Passover quotes, and so much more.
***Design and Photos by Rebekah Lowin