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Check Out This Season’s Most Stylish Seder Plate

Isabel Halley’s porcelain and gold plate gets Lena Dunham’s stamp of approval

Stephanie Butnick
March 05, 2014
Seder plate by Isabel Halley(Rachael Scharf)
Seder plate by Isabel Halley(Rachael Scharf)

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find a stylish, modern, cool-looking seder plate. I don’t know why, since I’ve never hosted a seder, but I feel like it’s something important to have. Thanks to a particularly frenzied trip to the Jonathan Adler warehouse sale a few years ago, I got my hands on one of these Futura Seder Plates (plus a peacock menorah and more mod porcelain dreidels than I know what to do with)—which, in the grand tradition of Jonathan Adler Judaica looks just barely like Judaica and can be used year-round, which is good, since it’s too big to fit into any of my cabinets.

But just like 2012’s strikingly intense paschal mezuzah, this year there’s a new kind of seder plate in town. Isabel Halley’s porcelain and gold seder plate is one of the loveliest Jewish objects I’ve seen yet, and not just because Halley confirms you can use the small bowls to store things like jewelry once you wash the bitter herb off of them. (Handwash, she stressed.) There’s an artful balance of ritual and aesthetic in the design, which features six small pinch bowls atop a large, gold-rimmed plate, with the option of Hebrew script identifying each bowl and its spot on the plate.

Halley, who’s been selling her designs online in 2012, said the idea for the piece occurred almost by accident. She had been making various versions of the small pinch bowls, and two years ago a friend looking at them suddenly put six in a circle and said, “This would be the best seder plate.” A cursory Google search yielded few truly stylish options for the discerning seder host, so she decided to make her own. Last month she started the design for a plate to house the bowls.

“I just love the symbolism of seder, of Passover,” she told me over the phone. “The bitter herbs, the bone, I just think all of those symbols that go back so many thousands of years are really incredible.”

It doesn’t hurt that Halley has the support of longtime close friend Lena Dunham behind her project. Yesterday Dunham tweeted about the seder plate—an item which, according to her, “no one can Passover”—to her 1.44 million Twitter followers. Still, the plate may be a bit out of reach for the majority of Girls fans. At $290 (we’re talking 24-karat gold paint and entirely handmade pieces, people), it’s not exactly millennial-friendly. Still, it’s a glamorous option and a great way to distract yourself from the fact that you haven’t had carbs in five days. Dayenu.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.