Rosh Hashanah Seder Plates
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year celebration. There are many traditions and observances surrounding this holiday. Many people give gifts at this time of year including shofars, which it is customary to sound. One such tradition is the use of Rosh Hashanah Seder Plates. These are plates with 8 or nine segments for placing various symbolic foods in.
Rosh Hashanah Seder Plates are typically used by those celebrating in a Sephardi or Mizrahi style. In these Seder ceremonies blessings are usually said over the various symbolic foods. There are some variations but traditionally dates, the head of a fish, apple, pomegranate, squash or pumpkin, beet, leeks and carrots or beans are served in the Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate.
The symbolism of each of these foods is like a blessing for the year to come. Dates are symbolic for peace, it is suggested in the Talmud that the word for dates in Hebrew 'tamar' is similar to the word for 'end', therefore the blessing is that there would be an end to animosity. The blessing for pomegranates is that we may be as full of mitzvahs as they are as pomegranates are thought to have 613 seeds, the same number mitzvahs. Pomegranates are also symbols of fertility because of their many seeds. The head of a fish or sheep can be included on the Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate although many people replace this with a head of lettuce, the blessing is that they will be the head and not the tail.
Also included on the Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate is carrots, squash or pumpkin, the symbolism of this is that the word for it in Hebrew is 'kraa' which sounds almost the same as the words for 'call out' and 'tear up'. The blessing is that good deeds would be 'called out' of us and a request that G-d will 'tear up' any severe judgments made against us. Beets are also served and the word for them in Hebrew is 'silka', this is much like the phrase 'they will be removed', the blessing is that all our enemies will be removed. Similarly the word for leeks in Hebrew is like the word for 'cut off' and the blessing is that our enemies would be cut off. Beans are used to represent abundance and the blessing is for the family to increase and multiply.
A new addition the Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate is from the Azhkenazi tradition of dipping apples into honey. The blessing said with this is for a sweet year all next year. Many people enjoy this part so much they have a separate honey dish for dipping apple into throughout the meal.
Rosh Hashanah seder plates come in many shapes and sizes and are often decorated with pomegranates, the seven species fruit or scenes of Jerusalem. World of Judaica has a fantastic range of Rosh Hashanah Seder Plates for sale at reasonable prices.