Passover 101: What Is the Afikoman?

Passover 101: What Is the Afikoman?

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Lisa Freedman
Mar 28, 2018
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

If you've been reading any of our Passover stories this week, you may have heard us talk about the Afikoman. And then you may have scratched your head and asked, "The Afi-wha?" out loud ... to no one. Allow us to explain.

What the Afikoman Is Not

During high school, my best friend bought me a card for Passover. On the front was a picture of a piece of matzo that had legs, a face, a cape, and other human-y characteristics. It said something like "I hope you find the Afikoman," which my friend read as the Afiko Man. He thought the matzo man was essentially the Jewish version of the Easter bunny. He was hilariously wrong, but I can see why he would have come to that conclusion.

What the Afikoman Is

Before the Passover Seder begins, the host (or another adult) breaks off a piece of matzo, wraps it in a napkin, and hides it. It's known as the Afikoman and the kids are often sent to look for it. Sometimes, the finder gets a prize or money! (In my family, the host would hide a piece for each child and the game would continue until everyone found a piece. Good thing because I was the worst at this game!)

What the Afikoman Represents

As you probably know by know, Passover commemorates the Israelites' Exodus from ancient Egypt, and their transition from a life of slavery to one of freedom. It's a ritualistic way of enabling all Jews to see themselves as slaves, reminding them to know the pain of those who are still oppressed in the world. Finding the Afikoman symbolizes a move from brokenness toward healing.

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