This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the evil Haman’s downfall after his plot to kill the Jews of Shushan, Persia, is foiled by the beautiful, Jewish, Queen Esther. That’s it in a nutshell. I haven’t even gotten to the part about Esther’s brave uncle Mordechai or King Ahasuerus or the poor 1st Queen Vashti. We celebrate by dressing up in costumes, eating hamentaschen (oznei hamen in Hebrew), hearing the Megillat Esther (biblical book of Esther) read aloud, drinking alcohol until you’re too drunk to tell the difference between Haman & Mordechai, Purim carnivals, etc. We do all of this in the US also, but only for a day or two. In Israel, the celebrating starts much earlier and there are also big parades (Adloyodot), nature activities, and a day off of school.

Noah’s class has been reading the Megillat Esther for the last 2 weeks in preparation. They have had special Purim art projects to decorate the classroom and the entryway at the school. He’s already had 2 costume days at school this week and they are not even his official Purim costume (top secret).

Spiderman!

Not shown: today’s costume of a Native American, complete with feathered headdress & face paint. All the children had to choose an Indiani name. Noah’s was Har haSusim (Mountain of the Horses). Baffling. Why Native American?

We went to a children’s concert by Noah’s preschool music teacher at the mall yesterday after school, complete with a poor guy in a dog costume, who she calls her best friend and four teenage dancing girls. Those of you who’ve gone to Hebrew school or Jewish camps will remember some of the numbers: Bashanah Haba’ah, Simi Yadech, Ha kova sheli shalosh pinot (an actual purim song, but fun the year round).  Some of the songs were live and acoustic, others she lip-synced from her own CD.  Just like real pop concerts! She said it was her dog Dodo’s birthday.  At jewish institutions in the US, we just sing “Happy Birthday” in Hebrew.  In Israel, they sing a different song.  If I were still a camp counselor, I’d introduce it next summer.

Other Purim activities this week included preparation for a mishloach manot exchange in Noah’s class. To make this manageable with a class of 35 kids, each child draws the name of one classmate & is responsible for bringing his basket. We baked our own batch of hamentaschen last week one day when Noah was home sick from school (but not too sick to eat hamentaschen) and delivered our first basket to our friends Anat & Menachem & their family when we had dinner with them last Friday. Noah’s class exchange goes down tomorrow.

master of the electric mixer

choice of traditional cherry filling or the more exotic raspberry/pomegranate

For weeks all of the bakeries and grocery stores have had displays of hamntaschen out. And not just a shelf or two, but shelves upon shelves.

Available flavors: poppy (trad.), halvah, double chocolate, amaretto, walnut, sugar-free poppy, date w/ cinnamon and star anise, and gianduia

stay tuned for more Purim updates . . .

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