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Why Passover Is Such a Beloved Holiday (and Some Seriously Beautiful Seder Plate Ideas)

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

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Evelin
8 months ago

I totally appreciate the inclusive and diverse aspect of this text. I have to admit, I had to google several words when I read it. And I still wonder what 6 kind of food will be served. Can you tell us examples? Plate #7 shows an egg, a slice of orange, etc. is the choice fix/traditional? Or selected by preference of the family? Is this plate and food meant to look at, or to actually share it and eat it together like mezze/tapas? I dont know much about it and am happy to learn more about the holiday, beside the shopping suggestions.

Evelin
8 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

“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. ” ok, understood: not meant to eat it, but still – what kind of food and why have they been chosen? The metaphors and their representive produce/food would be educative in this post *hopping to Wikipedia*

Alex
8 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

I agree more detail would be helpful! The foods are traditionally fixed (our childrens Haggadah, for example, has a whole spread on what the foods are and what they mean). But with modern times people have added or modified the plate. As for eating, well, technically no it’s just for viewing but at most seders Ive been to, at least SOME gets eaten. Especially the hard boiled egg and charoset! The shank bone, not so much, but only because it’s not very good eating. 🙂 This is a nice summary, and at the bottom has a link to some of the modern social justice additions:
https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/passover/learn-about-passover-seder-plate

Kelly
8 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

as a potential counterpoint: Jewish folks on the hunt for a Seder plate don’t necessarily want or need a detailed history of the holiday and everything it encapsulates. Just something to think about 🙂 I’m glad you were able to find google answers to learn more!

Emma
8 months ago
Reply to  Kelly

Yeah, I kind of thought all that was common knowledge/easy accessible? I grew up in a heavily Catholic area but have still attended seders at the home of close friends, so I guess I assumed it was common. However I know that when I’ve lived near an orthodox community there was not as much intermixing and socializing with others.

But, like, imagine writing a post about nativity sets and having to explain what Christmas is.

Irene
8 months ago
Reply to  Evelin

What goes on the Seder plate is prescribed, but it can vary from community to community. The plate that this post is about does sit in the center of the table and no one actually eats from it. It has different roles during the Seder at times we point to certain things at times someone removes it a brings it back. However, every one does get each of the foods shown on the main plate on their own individual plates for them to actually eat. At least that’s how it works in my Sephardic orthodox home.

Irene
8 months ago

Thanks Rebekah and Emily for this post! I just purchased the William Sonoma option. I think last year when I made my fist Seder, due to not being able to go to family, I didn’t want to commit to my own plate…but now that it’s year 2 alone it’s time! Thanks for this beautiful post and the analogy of waiting at the theater was spot on

L
8 months ago

Would love for you to have shared THE WHY behind Passover!

L
8 months ago

Would have loved for you to share the WHY behind Passover. Why do you celebrate and what does it mean. Why is its meaning special to you.

Sarah M.
8 months ago

That Morgan Levine plate (#11) also looks incredible with her beautiful handmade dishes set within it. (I don’t know and am not affiliated with her, I’m just a fan who was awestruck when I saw these on Instagram!)

Image of the whole ensemble here:comment image

Via:
https://www.marthastewart.com/8067612/modern-passover-seder-plates?slide=23ae8ac7-e935-4749-8093-97e05d870828#23ae8ac7-e935-4749-8093-97e05d870828

BW
8 months ago
Reply to  Sarah M.

Wow, that is stunning!

Lisa
8 months ago

Thank you for the wonderful post! I really felt like I got a feel for the spirit of the celebration and the plates are beautiful. As with Rebekahs last post I realised how much I truly don’t know about the Jewish holidays and am so was greatful for the helpful links in the comments and the nudge to go educate myself further. I also appreciate that this was a post for Jewish readers of the blog who celebrate passover and as such didn’t need to include an explanation of what passover is! It really illuminated to me how much those of us who are or at least were raised as Christian (like me) in a society that centers a lot around Christianity assume other people know about christian traditions – I mean imagine a post about Christmas that included entire paragraphs on explaining the story of christmas and the various traditions… Not every post on this blog is for me and that’s okay! As a non-American reader I also often don’t really get the American-holiday-posts and thats fine too. But I still get to appreciate the pretty things (I’m sure the artisans of these beautiful seder plates make many other… Read more »

Ally
8 months ago

Can EHD do a post on Eid decorations, festivities, etc? Thanks!

Kiana
8 months ago
Reply to  Ally

I was just about to comment about this. If we’re going for inclusivity, next week many cultures celebrate the spring equinox. As a Persian American who is celebrating eid next week, we have something similar to seder called a haft seen. It is a table filled with seven, special symbolic things that welcome the arrival of spring. For my culture, it’s a non religious holiday and thus can be celebrated by anybody.

Michelle
8 months ago

Thank you for introducing me to seder plates and educating me more about the ritual of Passover. Please excuse my ignorance as someone not well-versed in Jewish customs…Would it be considered inappropriate or sacrilegious to use a seder plate for a non-Passover meal? If I saw these in a store I would be tempted to purchase one as a beautiful display for banchan (shared Korean side dishes). I think #s 4, 10, 14, and 15 are especially beautiful and my existing banchan bowls/plates look very similar to #6. Thank you again for sharing!

LS
8 months ago
Reply to  Michelle

Personally, I think it’s fine if it doesn’t have specific imagery or language on it. If it’s a plate with little wells or smaller plates on it, that’s fine. If it has pictures of words related to Judaism or Passover, I would leave it, if not for the purpose of Jews celebrating Passover. Example: Jewish star, anything in Hebrew or English about the purpose of it, etc.

Michelle
8 months ago
Reply to  LS

That is definitely an important distinction. Thanks for your reply!

LS
8 months ago

Hi! I am Jewish and love Passover. Here’s what’s on the seder plate, usually. Can totally vary by what part of the world your family is from (Ashkenazi/Sephardic/Mizrahi/Ethiopian etc) and your level of “halakhic” observance (Jewish Rabbinic Law) and just randomly! – Hardboiled Egg –> Symbolic of Spring. – Lamb Shank Bone –> Symbolic of sacrificial offerings in “The Temple” aka the temples in Jerusalem, destroyed around 70 AD/CE. – Vegetable –> Often parsley, or celery or potato. To be dipped in salt water as part of the Seder. – Salt water –> symbolic of the tears of the slaves in Egypt – Haroset –> A yummy fruit/nut/wine mixture that is symbolic of mortar used by slaves to build in Egypt. – Maror –> aka bitter herb. Today it is often horseradish. Symbolic of the bitterness of slavery. – Matza –> Crackery stuff! The queen of the evening! Also, “the bread of affliction.” in liberal circles, sometimes: – an Orange! –> comes from some story of someone saying, “There will be women rabbis when there’s an orange on the seder plate!” (aka “when pigs fly” kind of thing)… There are now women Rabbis! My best friend is one! 🙂 What’s… Read more »

8 months ago
Reply to  LS

LS – I had no idea about the orange slice! I love it! I will be adding that to all my future Seder plates.

Rusty
8 months ago
Reply to  LS

This is really helpful, thank you!
Terrifically explained.

LS
8 months ago

Another thing! (Jew here, love Passover!)

Seder means “Order”. In Hebrew, the word of the same root, “le’Sader” means “to organize”. The Haggaddah has 12 parts that walk through what you do. Each part is a prayer or a song, or a story, or something you ritually eat. Most of the things (though not all!) on the Seder plate are eaten at some point during the meal. The egg and the lamb shank bone are not included as part of the Seder in terms of what you eat, they just sit there.

EM
8 months ago

Thank you for posting about my favorite holiday, Rebekah, it makes my heart happy! I have enjoyed following you on Instagram ever since your Hanukkah post here.

8 months ago
Reply to  EM

I’m so happy to hear that and so grateful for the support! Thank you, friend!! 🙂 xo

Donna
8 months ago

Thank you, EHD, for including this post for Passover. I was not brought up in the faith, but it wasn’t until I married into it that I realized how it felt to be reading magazines and blogs with all sorts of wonderful ideas for families and kids for Christmas and Easter, and rarely see the same for Passover and other Jewish holidays. If I recall correctly, back in the day, Martha Stewart was a pioneer in providing ideas for celebrating Jewish holidays, and I was grateful to have a place to turn to for entertaining inspiration. It’s wonderful to see much broader inclusion now, and it makes me think how many other readers may not see themselves or their major holiday traditions reflected. Let’s keep moving forward with this and maybe considering some more guest posts for Diwali or Eid – any others?

Luna
8 months ago

Love this post! Please keep the Jewish and other non-Christian traditions posts coming! I love that this can be an inclusive space for all kinds of ways of living and celebrating.

Arachna
8 months ago

Oooh. We got a “placeholder” blue and white plate when we started doing our own Passover but I always meant to choose something more special when I saw the right one. Just emailed my husband and hope he likes the black and white!

Brittany
8 months ago

I love what you said about the “sheer theater” of Passover, because I saw an amazing play called “Seder” a few years ago. If it’s ever playing at a theater near you, I highly recommend it!

https://www.hartfordstage.org/seder/

8 months ago
Reply to  Brittany

Thanks so much for sharing, Brittany!! I’m obsessed with all things theater and can’t wait to read more about this. xo

8 months ago

This made me happy to see too and I loved reading the comments! I’m Jewish and it feels so good to feel recognized – didn’t even realize I had been missing it! All that said, I have a funny bit of advice to share/tradition in our household: for our seder plate instead of using a real lamb shank bone (not often — never(!?) in our house), we decorate a toilet paper roll cardboard center to look like a bone and use that. It can actually be really pretty (so many art projects for those little tubes!) and slightly less gross…

8 months ago
Reply to  Eva Bogaisky

Eva – hi and thanks so much for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and I absolutely love hearing about everyone’s different traditions. I feel like this is such a perfect idea for vegetarians, too…and also just a sweet craft project for kids. Love love love it.

J
8 months ago

As a born-again christian, so much of my faith connects to Jewish traditions, and much of what we believe about Christ and Christianity was first symbolized in Jewish tradition. As a Sunday school teacher, the passover story is my all-time favorite to teach to students. It’s a beautiful story of redemption, freedom and to we Christians, the symbolism is RICH AND BEAUTIFUL and moves me deeply in my soul.

I know some of my fellow Christian friends also hold a passover meal, including/discussing the implications/symbolism for Christians.. I’ve always toyed with the idea, but have never actually done it. This post gave me the motivation to really look into it and see if it’s a tradition we’d like to adopt.

LS
8 months ago
Reply to  J

Obviously you are welcome to express yourself religiously in whichever way you please. However, if you are interested, please take time to look into the ways that Christians appropriate Jewish rituals and how that is felt in the Jewish community. Since Jews are often the target of Christian missionizing, and have historically been very much the target of Christian anti-Semitism, I personally find the Christian use of Jewish rituals troubling. I know that early Christianity is connected to Judaism, but in the intervening years, a lot has happened, including countless Jews risking and losing their lives to protect and transmit Judaism and Jewish identity to their children. While I am happy for people of all religions to learn with and from each other, I personally feel really weird about the modern day Christian interest in Jewish practice that does not center the experience of practicing, mainstream Judaism and Jews. To Jews, the richness and power of the Passover story is based on our ancestors, slaves in Egypt, defying the odds and holding on to their identities- long enough to pass it down to us. When we see Christians using the traditions that are so deeply a part of our religion,… Read more »

J
8 months ago
Reply to  LS

Respectfully understood. Thanks for sharing. Please know I meant no harm or offense, just expressing my genuine love of the passover account and the history because it is something that is woven into the fabric of our faith as well.

I will reconsider/rethink my second statement about celebrating it thanks to what you have shared. I became eager, excited when I read the post and comments but realize that I spoke too soon and misunderstood the intent of the post which was , was to share info and resources for those who belong to the Jewish religion, not necessarily encourage any/all non-jewish readers to begin new traditions, or start participating.

I hope I’m articulating myself well. In summary – thanks for the feedback, I respectfully hear it.

J
8 months ago
Reply to  LS

LS- I will add that your above description is one that I found so interesting and exciting which promoted my too-quick comment. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the details.

LS
8 months ago
Reply to  J

Thank you so much for saying this. I absolutely know you didn’t mean harm, and that your comment was based on genuine interest. I really hope I expressed my opinion without being too harsh. And I want to make sure that it’s clear that I think inter-faith dialogue, exploration and education is incredibly important. I think learning about other religions is very important, as long as we are centering the experiences of those who are members of the religion. I hope one day, if it’s something you would like, you will be invited to a Passover Seder as a guest and get to experience it. I know that inviting guests is an important part of the holiday, and I’m sure there are many Jews who would appreciate your enthusiasm and insight as a Christian guest at a Jewish Seder. All the best.

J
8 months ago
Reply to  LS

You were not harsh at all, and I appreciate the way you articulated yourself. Nice, kind, civil dialogue. Thank you. All the best to you as well.

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