Seder Stories


Learn about Jewish communities from across the world through seder plates. These three seder plates are inroads to pre-expulsion Spain, pre-war Eastern Europe, and post-war America. 

This Seder plate, the oldest ever found, is one of few Jewish items that endured after Jews were expelled from Spain. It features an inscription in the middle representing key Passover elements: the Paschal lamb, matzah, bitter herbs, and the Seder itself. 

This unique seder set combines wooden trays for matzah and holders for symbolic foods with a pedestal for Elijah's wine cup. Unlike other 19th-century seder sets, this one stands out with its energetic design, featuring rampant lions and intricate grillwork. The artist drew inspiration from Hanukkah lamps, fusing traditional elements with new materials to create a dynamic composition.

This ceramic Passover Seder plate from around 1946 was made in a workshop for Holocaust survivors. It features indentations for ritual foods and depicts images of slaves, the Holy Land, and Hebrew text about freedom and hope. Created by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, it reflects survivors' aspirations after World War II.


Discover how these objects reflect the history of when and where they were made. We will work together to consider how.

This seder plate is a rare and valuable artifact of Jewish life in medieval Spain. It was created prior to the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 and reflects the artistic and cultural richness of the Jewish community in Spain at that time. The plate's copper alloy material and intricate design reflect the influence of Islamic and Christian artistic traditions, as well as the Jewish tradition of decorative metalwork. The inscriptions in Hebrew and Arabic add to the plate's historical and cultural significance. 

This tiered seder plate is made of brass and features six compartments for the various symbolic foods of the seder. The plate's intricate design and craftsmanship reflect the cultural and artistic influences of the region in which it was created. This seder plate is embellished with animals, crowns, and object holders. It elevates the objects with whimsy and varied heights yet has a designated place for each item. The plate as a whole is an object of wonder.

This ceramic seder plate is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of Jewish communities in the aftermath of World War II. It was created by the Joint Distribution Committee, a humanitarian organization that provided aid to Jewish refugees. The plate's design reflects the practical and utilitarian nature of the challenges faced by the refugees. This plate is about displacement, survival, relocation, and longing. Through the acquiring of new skills, new immigrants find a way to settle into their new country and keep their traditions alive. 


Take inspiration from the design, materials, and histories of these objects to create your own seder plate that combines what you have learned with who you are. Pictured below are the original seder plate (left) with two projects examples based on that plate. 

The concentric circles of this plate inspire the composition for the design. 

Themes: Spring colors, flower motif, and Hebrew letters

Themes: The number four - four questions, cups, children, and names for Passover 

Using the ovals as a framework of spaces to tell a story. 

Theme: Story of the Exodus: Baby Moshe, slavery, burning bush, plagues, crossing of the sea, Miriam celebration.

Theme: Places: Each circle represents a city or country where seders have or aspire to have taken place.

The sculptural beauty of this plate is the springboard for creating three dimensional objects for holding the seder plate items.  

Theme: Seven Species, wheat/barley, figs, grapes, dates, olives, pomegranates. Indigenous plants of Canaan/Israel. 

Theme: Origins of the Seder Objects: lamb/bone, spring plants/lettuce, apple and grapes/haroset, chicken/egg, bricks/maror.