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Seder Plate

Seder Plate

Untitled

Neil Goldberg (American, b. 1963)
New York, United States, 1996
  • Matzah and paper in epoxy resin and wheels
  • Height: 5 in. (12.7 cm) Diameter: 12 1/4 in. (31.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Judaica Acquisitions Fund, 1998-44
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Seder Plate

Untitled

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Untitled

Passover ("Pesah" in Hebrew) is a springtime festival that celebrates the rebirth of the natural world at this time of year. Passover also commemorates the Jewish Exodus from Egypt in biblical times and is thus a celebration of the birth of the Jewish people.

One of the key Passover rituals is the seder, a service and festive meal at which Jews not only retell the story of the Exodus but try to relive it symbolically. Specific foods represent important elements of the story, readings and discussions help bring the past to life, and songs and hymns of praise create a festive atmosphere.

Passover is also known as the Festival of Matzot. During the holiday, Jews refrain from eating regular bread and anything that has yeast or leaven in it, which causes it to rise. The only bread that is allowed is matzah--a thin cracker that is prepared quickly so it doesn't have time to rise. The matzah is a reminder of the unleavened bread the ancestors of the Jewish people took with them when they hastily left Egypt.

Although the Torah specifies that the Passover holiday should last seven days, Jews outside of Israel traditionally add an extra day, as is the case with most of the religious holidays. This practice dates back to ancient times, when the exact day of a holiday was set only after witnesses had observed the new moon, which marked the beginning of the month. Often, it would take weeks for news of the new moon to reach Jews living outside of Israel. So Jews in the Diaspora would celebrate each holiday for an extra day, just to make sure they didn't miss the correct day.