Parsley & glass of saltwater

The Great Karpas Debate

Hello dear readers,

I want to start this blog post by taking you back in time, back to a simpler time. Before smartphones, before the internet, before Y2K and AOL and all that stuff.

Back when I was a kid, before we w ent on kosher Passover vacations, pesach seders were a much more intimate family affair. It was my parents, my older brother Abe, my younger sister Amanda, and me. We’d usually have the seders with people in the community, or occasionally we’d host our cousins from Cleveland. Fine. The point is: karpas.


Yes, karpas.

Just a quick overview, in case you were wondering: the word “karpas” apparently comes from Greek (I know, right???) and means “raw vegetable”, which is basically what it is. For the third step of the seder, right after Kadesh and urchatz, we dip a piece of karpas into salt water and eat it. The salt water represents the tears of slavery. One of the reasons we do the karpas is to arouse the curiosity of the children, since we have two dippings at the meal. Pretty straightforward, I guess… except what vegetable is the karpas??

In my family’s tradition, we use celery. Makes sense, right? The green represents the coming of spring and the flowering of plants after a cold winter, it’s easy to dip in salt water, yada yada. Most years one of my pre-seder jobs was picking the greenest and cleanest stalks of celery, and chopping them into juuuuust the right sized chunks.

But now?

The extended Silver-Jacobsen-Blum clan has four types of karpas. Four! It really unbalances the seder plate: It’s one hardboiled egg, one shankbone, some marror, a scoop of charoset… and one tiny saucer with celery, radish, parsley and potato.

So how did we get here?

Well, my husband Aryeh comes from a radish family. Every year I tell him that radishes aren’t green! (I think he knows… <3) Don’t get me wrong, I love a good radish, but celery, you know? Also, my brother-in-law David’s family uses potatoes (???), so we have to boil and cube a bunch of potatoes before the seders. And the parsley comes from my sister-in-law Ruth. I mean, is parsley even a vegetable? It’s more like an herb or something.

Anyway, it’s kinda funny at the seder table, where all the different families are jumbled together around the table and everyone is reaching over everyone else to grab their favorite karpas.

I wonder what karpas we’ll get at our Passover hotel in Florida? Do we get a choice? Do we alert the kitchen staff when we check in? Do we order off a menu when we sit down in the dining hall? We’ll have to find out! (Either way, though, I’m not packing karpas is my pesach go-to to-go bag!)

Where do you stand on the great karpas debate? Do you prefer celery, radish, potato or parsley – or something else?? Share in the comments!
More soon,


Create your own family traditions when you go on your first Passover family vacation with Leisure Time Tours. Call us at 718-528-0700 for more information or to book your getaway.


<< Back to All Posts