Matzo is the unleavened bread we eat on Passover, in remembrance of the night the Hebrews fled Egypt. Before we left Egypt, we baked bread for the long road that lay ahead of us. However, due to the hasty nature in which we had to do everything that night, the bread did not have time to rise. For this reason, every Pesach we are forbidden to eat leaven.
On the night of the Seder, which is the festive meal we have on the first night of Passover, the matzo plays a pivotal role as it replaces the bread, which is an ever-present component in otherwise every Jewish meal. In order to properly honour the Matzo, we place it on a special Matzah plate, or Matzah tray, which is a plate specifically meant for Matzah on Pesach.
As opposed to the Seder plate, which is on full display the entire Seder meal, the Matzah plate is actually covered, both by the Matzah and the Matzah cover, which is a cloth we use to cover the matzah, the same way we cover challah bread. For this reason, probably, many Matzah plates are comparatively simple and inexpensive, although there are plenty of exceptions.
One of the most popular kinds of Matzah trays, which can be purchased at an extremely affordable price, is the melamine Jerusalem Matzah plate. The price, of course, also depends on the size, but generally even large melamine Jerusalem Matzah plates tend to be on inexpensive. In the centre of the plate, naturally, is the Hebrew writing “Matzah” and on the sides are many images of edifices reminiscent of Jerusalem.
For those who want to splurge on a Matzah plate and are into Jerusalem motifs there are fancier and more expensive options.For example, you can find a beautiful hand-made painted wood Jerusalem plate size 12? X 2? for roughly four times the amount of money you would pay for said melamine Jerusalem matzah plate. For those who like wood art, you should acquire other Judaica items made of painted wood; if this is your first time buying Judaica articles for Passover, remember that you can also find painted wood Seder plates, Kiddush cup and entire havdalah sets. In addition to being stunning, since these items are covered with several layers of lacquer, you can hand-wash them without a problem.
Silver is very popular in Judaica. Almost any imaginable piece of Judaica can be found in silver, and Matzah trays are no exception. For less than fourty or even thirty dollars you have almost an infinite number of possibilities of silver-plated Matzah plates. A common silver-colored Matzah plate is square with vine decorations all around the edges and bears the name “Pesach” or “Matzah” at the centre of the plate, in Hebrew letters of course. For silver fans, it is a great opportunity to enhance your silver collection. Needless to say, though, that silver-colored is not the same as actual silver; the latter, obviously, is more expansive. This should be borne in the minds of those who care not only about the facade of their Judaica but also about the actual substance of which it is made.
Matzah Plates Guide
On Passover we place the Matzo on a special plate specifically meant for Matzah on Pesach, this plate is known as a Matzah plate. Matzo is the unleavened bread which is traditionally eaten by Jews during the Passover holiday, at a time when eating “Chametz” which is bread or other foods containing leavened grain is forbidden.
There are two different types of meanings behind the symbolism of Matzah, one is a historical meaning commemorating the exodus from Egypt, and the other meaning is quite symbolic, symbolizing redemption and freedom. Matzah can translate to “Lechem Oni" meaning poor man’s bread, which should serve as a reminder for us to always be humble, and to never, forget was life was like in servitude. The most popular and common types of Matzah plates are wooden, glass, silver, and melamine. Each type of Matzah plate is more affordable than the next and created with such artistic craftsmanship.
The Seder plate is a special plate containing symbolic foods which are displayed or eaten at the Passover Seder. On the Seder plate we place and serve six types of food which represents“The Exodus”.
The six types of food we place on the Seder plate are, the Charoset, a sweet mixture of fruits, wine and honey, represents the mortar that the Hebrews used to build cities in Egypt; the Maror, bitter herbs, and Chazeret, horseradish, symbolise the hardships that the Hebrews underwent; the Karpas, any vegetable other than bitter herbs, usually potato or celery, is dipped in salt water and stands for the many tears shed by the enslaved Hebrews; the hard-boiled egg represents the korban hagigah, the festival sacrifice, that was offered in the Temple; finally the Z’roa, usually a chicken wing or roasted lamb, represents the korban haPesach, the Passover sacrifice. The Z’roa is only symbolic and is not eaten. Finally there is a seventh symbolic item used during the Passover Seder, which is a stack of three matzos placed on its own plate on the Seder table.
Seder plates come in many different styles and can be specially designed for both children and adults alike. Other than playing an important religious role, the Seder plate also has an aesthetic role, being the table centrepiece. Seder plates come in various types such as aluminium, pewter, glass, and the ever so popular ceramic.
Matzot are used not only by themselves but in several roles in Passover cuisine where they can substitute for flour or pasta. In English speaking countries, where Ashkenazic culture dominates, matzo balls and matzo farfel are widely used in soups and as pasta, as well as Matzah meal being used in baked goods such as cakes.
Sephardim use Matzah soaked in water or stock as a substitute for phyllo or lasagne pasta to make pies known as mina, or in Italian, Scacchi. Some Ashkenazim do not cook with Matzah, believing that mixing it with water may allow leavening; the mixture is called "Gebrochts" by Ashkenazi Jews.
Throughout the Seder meal the Matzah is covered an ornate cloth, which is known as the Matzah cover. Serving the same purpose as a Challah cover, Matzah covers come in various styles, colours, designs, and sizes. Silk Matzah covers are extremely popular; they are printed in eye-catching and vibrant colours. In the design the traditional house of Jerusalem is illustrated. In the centre of the cover, the word "Passover” (Pesach) or “Chag” is painted.
Velvet is also a popular make for Matzah and Challah covers alike. 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!