Passover 2014

star-Pessach-20145MFI-SEDER-PLATESAKA Pessach 5774

While designing the Five Minutes for Israel Pessach card that you see below, I realised the traditional matza motif was becoming a bit stale (weak pun intended).

So I experimented with other icons of Pessach.

Pessach plate techtonics

First I tried working (not literally) with chazeret, horse radish. Real chazeret is made of grated fresh horseradish and is eaten between two matzot to follow the practice of Hillel, from the time when the Temple stood. He combined the matza and the horseradish and ate them together.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one must only use freshly grated raw horseradish. No flavorings of any kind may be added. The ordinary jarred horseradish, whether red or white, that appears on our seder plate every year is not acceptable.

The beetroot stained variety that I attempted to work into the card turns out to be not only a graphic failure but a halakhic one.

By the way, in Hebrew the plural of the feminine gender (every word is either masculine or feminine) ends with ‘ot’. Hence matzot. But I’m writing in English. So the plural would be matza‘s’. I could get away with slices of matza but that is becoming complicated – and wordy. Besides matza is never sliced. It is baked thin.

All this leads up to something which, on consideration, is really a folk art – the Seder Plate as the design motif for the card. Unlike the Hannuka menorah for which there are definite construction rules, the plate used for the traditional Pessach Seder night is more defined by function than form. It provides an attractive way to present the foods that are a major part of the Pessach dinner and accompanying home religious service.

Perhaps a scholar could tell me whether a plate is really halakhicly required at all? Apart from aesthetics, why a plate? Why not a sheet of greaseproof paper? Why not a plain, undecorated tray?

The plates in the card, chosen after a Google search and including a new, special edition, virtual Five Minutes for Israel version are lined up on the card. After all, Seder in Hebrew means order.

For those of you who celebrate it, Five Minutes for Israel wishes all of you a most happy Pessach festival in the company of your families.

The provenance of these plates is sometimes quite difficult to discover as many websites reuse the image without crediting a manufacturer. Many are probably commercial products. If someone recognises their creation, please contact 5MFI and I will be happy to give credit where due.

Plate layoutKnown origins

2. Hub Cap Seder Plate, Bible Belt Balabusta
3. Disposable Seder Plate
4. Five Minutes for Israel design
7. Armenia design, Made in Israel
8. Congregation Or Shalom, Berwyn, PA


About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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