Passover is an eight day-long holiday, commencing with the Passover Seder celebrated on the first and second eve of the holiday. There are unique rituals to be observed during Seder, including a set order of dishes to be consumed as a reminder of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt and their liberation from slavehood. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the Haggadah. The symbolic food is placed on a Seder plate. There are no regulations as to the shape or material of a Seder plate. However, using the most beautiful, artistic ritual objects possible is a hiddur mitzvah, an act to enrich the religious observance with aesthetic dimension.
Porcelain Seder Plate repeating the pattern of an earlier plate made in Pápa. In the middle of the plate, a portion is inscribed from the Haggadah (Ha lachma anya), beginning with the proclamation that "this is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Egypt".Porcelain Seder plateHerend, 19th CenturyHungarian Jewish Museum 64.420
Porcelain Passover Plate from Herend, naming elements of the Seder on its rim. In its center, a portion of the Ha lachma anya is inscribed in the shape known from protective amulets.Porcelain Seder plateHerend, 19th CenturyMuseum of Applied Arts, Budapest, 55.676
A special group of Herend Passover plates depict a Passover celebration scene in their center. The painting shown on this blue plate is an adaptation of a Seder scene by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim from ca. 1867, well known in Jewish communities. In front of the head of the family dressed in white garb, there is the Seder plate, behind him four bottles of wine to symbolize the four glasses of wine to be consumed during the Seder. In the lower right corner of the picture there is a pitcher used for ritual hand washing before meals. Beside the bearded men dressed in traditional garments, there are women in fashionable clothes reading the Haggadah, as an implication of the modernization of the Jewish population.Porcelain Seder plateHerend, after 1880Hungarian Jewish Museum 64.426
Heliogravure depicting Moritz Daniel Oppenheim Seder scene.Seder Night at HomeMoritz Daniel Oppenheim: Bilder aus dem Altjüdischen Familien-LebenFrankfurt am Main, 1886Hungarian Jewish Archives 90.314.2
The only Seder Plate from the Herend Porcelain Factory that bears a date stamp was produced in 1873. In the center of the plate a family celebration scene of the Seder is depicted in a modern bourgeois setting with book shelves and a clock. Above and below the picture, in two diamond-shaped boxes, there are two inserts containing texts to be recited during the Seder. The upper box is the explanation of the purpose of matzo symbolizing the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Egypt. The lower box contains Ma nishtana?; Why is tonight different from all other nights? The phrase appears at the beginning of each line of The Four Questions, traditionally asked via song by the youngest capable child attending Passover Seder. These four questions are addressed during the Seder by the leader of the ceremony, and year by year, the exodus from Egypt is retold.Porcelain Seder plateHerend, 1873Hungarian National Museum, 52.99