What are the items that go on a seder plate?

Answered by
Rabbi Daniel B. Syme
  1. A roasted shankbone
    The shankbone symbolizes the paschal offering brought to the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times. Many Jews also see the shankbone as a symbol of God's "outstretched arm," helping the Jewish people in times of trouble.
  2. Maror, or bitter herbs
    Usually a horseradish root or romaine lettuce, maror is symbolic of the bitterness our ancestors experienced as slaves in Egypt.
  3. Karpas
    A vegetable, usually parsley, karpas symbolizes spring and its spirit of hope, as well as the Jew's undying faith in the future.
  4. A roasted egg
    Traditionally a symbol of the continuing cycle of life, the roasted egg also reminds us of the special festival offering brought to the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times. In addition, some see the egg as a symbol of the Jewish people's will to survive. Just as an egg becomes harder the longer it cooks, so the Jewish people have emerged from the crucible of persecution as a strong and living people.
  5. Charoset
    Usually a combination of apples, wine, walnuts, and cinnamon, charoset symbolizes the mortar that our ancestors used to make bricks in Egypt.
  6. A dish of salt water
    This water is symbolic of the tears our ancestors shed in Egypt.

Tradition does not dictate the shape or size of the seder plate. Many families purchase one of the beautifully artistic seder plates made in Israel, but it may be round or square, plain or ornate.