Matzah Covers Guide
Matzah is the food most traditionally associated with the holiday of Passover or "Pesach" in Hebrew. Passover honors and celebrates the exodus of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt under the Pharaoh. Upon running from slavery, the Hebrews had to take their food and leave very quickly not allowing their bread to rise. Mentioned multiple times in the Torah, Matzah serves to commemorate and symbolize redemption and freedom. It also serves to humble a person and bring them to a higher appreciation for their freedom. While Matzah is eaten throughout the week of Passover it specifically is used for the Passover Seder meal. During the Seder, or special dinner, various symbolic foods are eaten.
Celebrated in the Hebrew month of Nissan, is the first month of the Jewish calendar. To symbolize the first month and freedom, the Passover Seder table is traditionally set with a special white tablecloth and white satin is used to cover the Matzah. Similar to Shabbat, the Challah or in this case Matzah is covered with a special cover or case that has beautiful embroidery typically in silver to honor this special holiday.
Once the Matzah is in its special cover it is typically placed on a beautiful plate usually made from a frosted glass with dark blues and often the word Matzah is engraved in Hebrew. Dishes for Passover are kept separately from plates used throughout the year, as anything that has touched what items are not allowed on Passover. These beautiful plates then are specifically used to honor this important holiday.
Passover is one of the only times where instead of spending time in the Synagogue, the whole ritual is done in the home making the table the true centerpiece for this special occasion. Families and guests gather around the table and each member has a special role to play. The children ask the "four questions" of why this night is different from all others and the "Afikomen" is hidden and searched for at the end of the evening.
The "Afikomen" is a special piece of Matzah that is broken off at the beginning of the meal. The "afikomen" is a substitute for the Passover sacrifice during the First and Second Temple periods. Traditionally this piece of Matzah is hidden and the children have to run around the house to find it as a fun way to keep the children awake and alert throughout the whole meal. The middle piece of Matzah is used and when found is eaten to ensure that the Matzah is the last taste left in the mouth.
Like the Matzah there are also beautiful Afikomen bags made in white satin with beautiful embroidery and tassels. Originally the Afikomen was wrapped in a napkin and hidden but today these special covers are used for an added touch of elegance.
For More Information
Eating matzo, or matzah, is one of Passover‘s main commandments. Matzo is unleavened bread made of one of the following types of grain: wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt. These five grains can become leavened and are therefore forbidden the entire Passover holiday, although the commandment to eat matzo actually applies only to the Seder night. When placed on the table, the matzo is covered throughout the Seder meal with an ornate cloth; this is done for the same reasons we cover the challah bread every Shabbat and Jewish holiday. Similarly to challah-covers, there are manifold matzah c0vers of various styles, colors, sizes, etc.
Silk matzah covers are very popular and usually come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. A trendy choice is a white and pomegranate silk matzah cover, which is interesting since pomegranate is actually eaten on Rosh Hashanah rather than on Pesach. Another silk matzah cover that lately inundates the market is a silver-colored cover with images pertinent to the Exodus from Egypt, such as the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the splitting of the sea, which is one of the most popular motifs most often seen on matzah covers.
Other fabrics, such as velvet, also make for popular matzah covers. Velvet is many people’s fabric of choice for purposes such as matzah and challah covers. Usually circular and fringed, velvet matzah covers endow any table they rest on with a regal touch. Many velvet, as well as other materials, matzah covers come with an added bonus: a matching afikoman bag!
If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing matzah cover, check out those designed by Israeli artist Yair Emanuel. Popular ideas for embroidery include names of the family members, the Jewish year in which the matza cover was made, and more. Biblical passages never go out of style and are always appropriate. You can look up passages that discuss the Exodus, the splitting of the sea, our relationship with God and of course about the commandment to eat Matzo on Passover.
If you are looking to buy a wedding or house-warming gift, matzo cover may be the perfect gift. Firstly, this is a gift people can use year after year, for many years. Secondly, it can also be tailor-made for the couple or family. If it is a Jewish wedding gift what would be more fitting than embroidering the Hebrew names of the bride and groom and their wedding date with a Hebrew passage? If it is a housewarming present, you can include a blessing for the home on the matzah cover, to remind the recipients, years from now, when they received the beautiful matzah cover that they still use every single year.