Purim - The Holiday to Share Gifts of Food and Drink
(and hamentashen too!)
Purim - a blockbuster movie? No. But it has a villain to boo and hiss and a hero and heroine to cheer! And of course
Purim has people to save! Sure sounds like a blockbuster movie, however, Purim is not a movie at all but an important Jewish
Purim is an exciting mix of storytelling, masquerade parties, carnivals, lots of delicious
hamantashen and of course,
meaningful Purim traditions. This fun-filled holiday has wonderful food customs that tie it all in with caring and
Mishloach Manot (also called Shalach Manot), the sending of food gifts to friends, family and the needy
is one of Purims' leading traditions. Purim is to celebrate the fact that Jews survived when they were supposed to be
destroyed-a victory over hatred and violence.
The Story of Purim, in a Nutshell
Long ago, the King of Persia held a beauty contest to pick his new bride. The beautiful and charming Esther impressed
him, and she was immediately crowned. Mordecai, Esther's guardian and Jewish leader, instructed her to keep her Jewish
identity a secret. But terrible trouble began when Mordecai refused to bow before the King's wicked Prime Minister,
Haman. Haman, a terrible enemy to the Jews convinced the King to let him destroy them. When Mordecai discovered the
evil plot, he begged Esther to reveal her identity and save their people. Esther devised her own clever plan, and
when she exposed Haman's scheme, the King was outraged and ordered his death and the death of his sons.
For the observance of Purim, there are four mitzvoth, or good deeds, that Jews are to fulfill.
#1: Reading the Megilla (story of Purim): With the goal to never forget what happened so long ago, congregations
everywhere read the story of Purim (named the Megilla-yes, the "whole megilla") aloud every year to an excited and
rowdy crowd. Listeners cheer for the heroes and boo, hiss, stamp feet and shake graggers (noisemakers) to drown out
the villain's name (Haman) each time it's read. Purim is a joyous holiday where children, and sometimes adults,
dress up like royalty-fromQueen Esther to Haman-and parade around Purim carnivals and festivals. It's all in the
spirit of victory and good over evil.
#2: Exchanging gifts of food: Shalach Manot means to send portions, or food gift baskets. Traditionally, Jews send Purim gift Baskets filled with ready-to-eat treats, including hamentashen, the traditional triangular cookie that
represents Haman's three-pointed hat, as well as all sorts of gourmet treats from chocolates to wine. Purim baskets are sent to friends, family, neighbors,
acquaintances and business associates. It's a mitzvah (good deed) to send as many Purim baskets as possible as a
strong reminder of the love and unity that Esther and Mordechai brought to their Jewish community. Mishloach Manot
(Purim baskets) are to be delivered by a messenger or third party rather than delivered by the giver (mail order
or any delivery service are perfect).
#3: Giving to the poor: Matanot l'Evyonim means gifts to the poor. Purim traditions include giving at least two
Purim gifts of food to those less fortunate. These are also traditionally sent as gift baskets, but the mitzvah can be
fulfilled by a financial contribution to an organization that will ultimately provide food.
#4: Eating a festive meal: At the close of the Purim celebration, Jews everywhere enjoy a meal together. It is a lively
and spirited celebration and one of the few where Jews are told to eat, drink and live it up. While there is no
traditional Purim menu, Hamantashen is extremely popular as a dessert item and kreplach, also triangular, is often
part of the meal. At Challah Connection, you can find several traditional dishes and desserts that will be perfect
for a Purim meal.