We’re in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina working on a small organic garden and orchard that sustains one household. Our hosts, Jay and Ruth, are delightful teachers who are committed to nurturing the land, their bodies, their marriage, and their faith.  They have invited us to share in their Jewish practice during our stay.  Last week was Passover, and Brenna and I experienced our first Seder, reclining and remembering the Israelites’ exodus out of slavery in Egypt. The following is the Seder plate with descriptions of each symbolic food.  The egg is from the chickens just down the road (we hear the rooster in the morning) and the horseradish and parsley are from the garden.

The Seder plate contains all the symbols of the seder along with the Matzot (pictured above), wine, salt water, and Miriam’s and Elijah’s cup.

Karpas: a vegetable, usually green such as parsley, symbolizing spring and rebirth. It is dipped in the salt water at the beginning of the seder to remember the tears of the Israelites while in slavery.

Haroset: a mixture of chopped apples, nuts (walnuts), wine, and cinnamon. This symbolizes the mortar that the slaves made for bricks in Egypt.

Maror: the bitter herbs. Horseradish used to symbolize the bitterness of slavery.

Beytzah: roasted egg, symbol of the festival sacrifice. 

Zeroa: roasted shank bone, symbol of the Passover sacrifice.  Here, a broiled beet is used in the tradition of some Talmudic Rabbis.

-Descriptions of the seder plate taken from ‘A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah' by Rabbi Joy Levitt and Rabbi Michael Strassfeld.