This year’s Passover ended on Saturday, April 30, leaving stomachs full and hearts open. The Jews are not the only people that surrounded the Seder plate in celebration—many Mormons also partook of the Seder meal in remembrance of their heritage and sacrament.
BYU alumna Lori Cable shares three to four Seder meals every Passover with Young Women, Young Single Adults and her family. Her mother, a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helped Cable connect with her heritage and learn of the important symbolism of Passover food. Cable now teaches the food and symbolism to others in hope that they can learn of their heritage, too.
She explained the symbolism of food on the Seder Plate:
- Shank Bone — Full bone of a lamb, not eaten. Symbolizes when the Israelites slaughtered and roasted a lamb and put the blood on the top of their door posts for the Angel of Death to pass over.
- Matzo — Unleavened bread, like a thin cracker. Israelites were commanded to eat the paschal lamb meat with bread that didn’t have time to rise.
- Bitter Herb — Often horseradish. Symbolizes the bitterness of slavery for the Israelites.
- Greens — Often lettuce, parsley or watercress dipped in salt water. Represents springtime and the tears of the Israelite slaves.
- Roasted Egg — Not eaten. Symbolizes spring.
- Haroset — Fruit salad-like paste. Represents the mortar that filled the gaps to hold the bricks the Israelites used to construct Pharaoh’s buildings.
The Passover has many connections to Jesus Christ, according to Cable. She said this is one of the greatest reasons she loves to celebrate the Passover.
“My favorite part of the meal is the shank bone,” Cable said. “Jews don’t believe that the Messiah has come, but the shank bone has many references that Jesus Christ is our Messiah.”
She explained the shank bone comes from a lamb and Christ is the Lamb of God. The shank bone can’t be broken, and Christ’s bones were never broken. The shank also can’t have rotting meat on it, and Christ resurrected after three days, therefore never rotting.
“The reason I share this with others is so that they, too, can know that the Messiah has come, and he will come again,” Cable said.
Jeffrey Chadwick, Professor of Religious Education in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, hosted BYU’s Passover Seder, with at least 250 attendees at every meal. He urged members of the Mormon faith to learn of the symbolic food in the Seder meal for three reasons: to understand their own heritage, to understand the setting of Jesus’ life and the setting of the time of his crucifixion, and to improve their relationship with Jewish people and how they both view themselves as an unbroken line of Israel
“We have patriarchal blessings that say we are from the ancient tribes of Israel, but I don’t think we take it as seriously as we should. The Old Testament is our family history,” Chadwick said. “If we really appreciated the things of ancient Israel, we would understand the Passover that will help us understand our own sacrament.”
BYU student Ben Hanson recently returned from the Jerusalem study abroad. He said he got together with a group of friends to celebrate the Passover.
“As Mormons and Christians, we sometimes forget where we come from. The Passover was our Savior’s last meal before He died for us,” Hanson said. “Once I learned of the Passover, it has helped my belief in Christ and my testimony of the symbolism of the sacrament grow stronger.”