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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The foods of Passover: meaningful and delicious

The+seder+plate+above+contains+six+food+dishes+%28karpas%2C+charoset%2C+maror%2C+hazeret%2C+zeroa+and+beitzah%29%2C+which+all+have+significant+meaning+to+the+story+of+Exodus.
Rachael Wolfson
The seder plate above contains six food dishes (karpas, charoset, maror, hazeret, zeroa and beitzah), which all have significant meaning to the story of Exodus.

Passover began on Monday, April 22. On this major Jewish holiday, we celebrate the freedom of the Jewish people who were once slaves Egypt. When the Israelites were fleeing Egypt after finally being released by Pharaoh, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise, resulting in Matzah: unleavened bread. Today, during Passover, we do not eat products with yeast to recall the flight of the Israelites from the house of bondage. While food options may seem limited during Passover, they’re actually not. The foods that we eat are not only delicious but also have great significance.

The seder plate, which sits at the center of the table, presents the different foods that play a central, symbolic role in the Passover holiday. These include: karpas (parsley), charoset (a sweet dish with apples and nuts), maror (a bitter herb, often horseradish), hazeret (another bitter herb), zeroa (a shank bone) and beitzah (a hard boiled egg).

The seder plate serves as a timeline for the Passover story. Karpas symbolizes springtime before the Israelites became enslaved in Egypt. But we dip the parsley in salt water as a reminder of the Israelites’ salty tears as they became enslaved by Pharaoh.

Charoset reminds us of the Israelites’ hard labor in building Pharaoh’s cities. Charoset is a type of paste containing apples, nuts, cinnamon, wine and other ingredients. It represents the sticky mortar the Israelites used to construct Egyptian buildings for Pharaoh. Maror, a bitter herb, represents the horrific suffering the Israelites endured as slaves. The Israelites were whipped by the Egyptians as they toiled away in the hot desert. It is a custom to make what is known as the Hillel sandwich combining the charoset and maror.

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Hazeret, though it sounds similar to charoset, is very different as it represents Pharaoh’s cruel decree: the killing of all male Jewish babies. Hazeret is so bitter even more than maror that we simply can’t eat it, just as the ancient Israelites were scarcely able to bear Pharoah’s cruel decree against them.

Zeroa serves as a reminder of the last of the ten plagues. After Moses asked Pharaoh to let his people go (the Jewish slaves), followed by Pharaoh’s refusal, God unleashed the 10 plagues upon the Egyptians. The last of them involved the smiting of the first born. Moses, who was directed by God, told the Israelites to smear the blood of lamb on their doorposts so that the angel of death would pass over their households. By doing so, the Israelites showed great faith in God since the lamb was a sacred animal to the Egyptians.

The last symbolic food found on the seder plate is the egg. There are multiple interpretations of what the egg symbolizes. One of the most common interpretations is that the egg represents the circle of life, hence its circular, oval shape. Beitzah brings us to the present day: the day we gather with our family and friends at the seder table to tell the Exodus story and to celebrate the resilience of the Israelites.

Beyond these symbolic foods, there are the traditional foods of Passover. In most seders, brisket is the main dinner course, and it typically follows the matzo ball soup course. And while some might think that desserts are pretty bland on Passover, it’s quite the opposite. A common and delicious Passover dessert is pavlova: a meringue cake made up of mostly egg whites and sugar. Families often eat it with whipped cream and fruits. The pavlova cake melts in your mouth. It’s one of my favorite desserts. Flourless chocolate cake is another popular dessert.
Don’t let the “flourless” part turn you away from it. It’s just as good, if not better, than chocolate cake with flour. The chocolate is very strong and stands out in a flourless cake.

Foods like brisket, pavlova and flourless chocolate cake may not have as much significance as the seder plate foods, but they do foster joy and happiness at the seder table, reminding us that even when times get bad, there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel.

On Passover, we remember the struggle and hardship the Israelites endured as slaves, and God who brought them out of slavery and into the Promised Land, a land “flowing with milk and honey.” The story of Passover reminds us to never give into cruelty. The strength of the Israelites who were able to survive under the horrific conditions of slavery in Egypt serve as an inspiration: their story of liberation giving hope to Jews and all people everywhere.

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About the Contributor
Rachael Wolfson
Rachael Wolfson, Print Editor-in-Chief
Rachael Wolfson is currently a senior and this is her third year on The Pitch. During her first two years, Rachael was a Print Opinion Editor and now she is a Print Editor-in-Chief. In addition to The Pitch, Rachael runs on the cross country and track team. She's also the Co-Founder and Co-President of The WJ Gilmore Girls Club. Her two older brothers (Thomas '20 and Alexander '22) also served as Print Editors-in-Chief when they were Wildcats/Madcows (take your pick). Rachael is looking forward to ending the Wolfson Dynasty (2017-2024) on a high note!! 
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