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Seder Plate

square mazzah-shelf

There are many hiding places for the "afikoman," the piece of mazzah that is eaten at the end of the seder meal. If it is hidden in a difficult-to-find place between the books on a shelf or behind canned tomatoes in the kitchen, the "thief" can sell it for a high price to the leader of the seder since the celebration cannot continue without this unleavened bread "dessert."

The eight-day festival of Passover begins with the seder celebration, which consists of readings, songs, symbolic dishes and rituals, as well as a feast that commemorates the exodus from Egypt. The seder table is set with three pieces of mazzah placed on top of each other. They represent the two groups of priests (the Levi and Kohen), as well as the people of Israel. The middle piece of mazzah is broken before the meal. Half is eaten right away, and the other half, the afikoman, is saved for the end of the meal. Children like to hide it.

Kallmann Rothschild, an art teacher from the Hessian town of Schlüchtern, made this seder plate for the three pieces of mazzah. Its painted top is adorned with the Hebrew words Pessah, mazzah, and maror. They are based on a command by Rabbi Gamliel II, who said that the person who has not spoken these words on Passover has not fulfilled his duty. A hilly Mediterranean landscape evokes Israel as the country of messianic longing. The mazzahs are stored behind the small curtain and are uncovered on seder.

Rothschild was imprisoned in the Oranienburg concentration camp in 1938 and afterward fled with his wife and son to England. He died there in 1973 at the age of eighty-two.

Object Details:
Seder plate
Kallmann Rothschild (1891–1973)
Hamburg, ca. 1912–1939
Wood, glass, fabric
10.9 x 30.8 x 30.8 cm


A Jewish woman during ritual cleansing, illustration from a prayer book, Germany 1427-1428
© Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek »Carl von Ossietzky«, Hamburg

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