Tag Archives: purim

Phenomenal Purim Seudah

Wow. Just. Wow. We went to G6’s place for the Purim Seudah and were instantly enveloped in warm fuzzies. We were greeted as if we were old friends and were made so welcome. That is the mark of a good hostess – someone who puts her guests at ease from the first moment.

Before today, I had met G6 only once face to face, and that was a month ago at the MetroImma Shmooze, but we have been online friends forever. When she heard our Purim was to be spent without any of our children, she immediately invited us over. All four of us – me, the KoD and my parents. Without hesitation.

There was so much laughter in the room, and everyone was just high on life. We were all involved in getting to know you conversations. By the end of the evening we had all become good friends. And let’s just say there was a lot of Jewish geography playing going on in that dining room!

G6’s son Joey (who was on that Millionaire show) performed a grammen (a rhyme set to music) that mentioned everyone in the room and something pertinent to them, and was hysterically funny. In a nod to my and my mum’s Welsh roots he attempted to sing Land of My Fathers (Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau)…in Welsh. It was quite the interpretation. My sides are still aching from laughing so hard (watch the video clip. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while! Part Two is here). You have to hand it to him – there are not many people who will bravely attempt to sing the Welsh National Anthem with absolutely no knowledge of the language whatsoever.

The table was set so beautifully. Go over to G6’s blog to see the before pictures. The food was so delicious – the KoD asked me to get the recipes for everything so that I can recreate the delectable delicacies – specifically the carrot muffins and the dessert. Oh and the brisket. And the soup. And, ok, and everything else.

G6 – thank you so much for opening your home and your heart to us – you definitely gave us a Purim Seudah to remember. Totally splendiferous.

This is a group shot of some of the people at the Seudah. There were others, but they were camera shy.

Truly, it was a magical evening. And on that note, I am off to sleep. Tomorrow I have to start thinking about the other P holiday. Shudder….

Non Scientific Purim Poll

It’s the time of year when everyone is thinking about Purim Mishloach Manot baskets, some people have a theme, some match their theme to their costume – it can get very detailed.

I have written before about how low key I tend to be – but I was curious. How many Mishloach Manot do you send, how many do your kids, and how much do you reckon that you spend per recipient?

Sad sight

When we were at our hosts’ house for the Purim Seudah (festive meal) last night we looked out of the window every time we heard loud singing. It is a religious neighbourhood, so we did expect a lot of Purim merriment.

What I saw hurt me and saddened me. One particular time there were two teenage boys, maybe my son’s age (14), weaving their drunken way down the street. In the centre of it. One of them was gesticulating wildly with an almost empty bottle of what looked like scotch / bourbon in one hand, and a lit cigarette in the other. They paid no heed to the cars. They walked right up to a moving car, and motioned for the driver to roll down the window. When the car drove on they continued their drunken walk in the midst of the road.

Part of me wished I knew who these boys were. Part of me was glad I didn’t. If I had, I would have called their parents to come pick them up. If the parents had refused, what would I have done? Would I have called the police? I don’t know. There was a lot of drunkenness around, according to my boys, who I am proud to say did not get drunk. My 7 year old came home after spending the weekend with his father, and proudly told me “I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol”.

I am glad my message got through to my kids, but why are there other teens taking advantage of this day to put themselves in such danger??!! So many rabbis this year spoke out against drunkenness, condemned it in strong language. What can they do to actually get the message through to those who need to hear it?

I am told that as bad as I thought it was last night, it’s worse in Monsey. Please tell me it’s not so….

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Teens and Purim Drinking

Purim is just over two weeks away and while the kids are all busy planning costumes and mishloach manot themes, the issue of alcohol consumption must be addressed with the older ones. My two oldest boys are 14 and 13 and are already talking about the Purim parties they are going to go to at the houses of their Rebbeim (rabbis). Lenny (the 14 year old) says that there will be alcohol of all types out on the table and no one is policing what the bochurim (young men) drink. Up until recently Lenny was not interested in alcohol, the wine he drank on Shabbat made his head hurt – and I was quite happy not to have to think about him drinking. Recently he has started asking for a sip of my beer “just to taste”. However, most of his friends will be drinking on Purim, and I am sure he won’t want to be left out.

Our house is in no way an alcohol free zone. The kids know I drink beer occasionally, and on Shabbat I will have a scotch with the meal. There is no over-indulging. One beer or one scotch and I am done. If we drink wine, I may let them have a little, especially of the Muscato as they call that the ginger ale wine and I don’t see the harm in a few small sips. But they see at home that there is no line crossed. They see moderation, and self control.

If I ban the teens from having any alcohol on Purim it will have the opposite effect. I have had friends who have had to pick up their kids from a neighbour’s yard, where they collapsed paralytically drunk. Even worse, alcohol poisoning is a very real threat, especially if their consumption isn’t monitored.

Parents of older kids – how do you deal with this? Is allowing the boys to have even one drink going off the deep end? Can you trust a teen to stop at one? Do I close my eyes and let boys be boys one day of the year? (Not going to happen, not with me as a mom). When the kids are at our table for seudah, or at their Dad’s, we can limit their intake. Let them go to the Purim parties – what can we do? I don’t want to be a party pooper and not let them go. It is Purim after all!!

I do plan on talking to my kids, thankfully we have an awesome relationship that we can talk about everything, but I am wondering what message they will hear. All advice welcome.

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Purim Costumes

The boys want to dress up all together this year. When they told me that it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. They love each other that much that they want to do something together without me having to bang heads to make it happen. Aw how sweet. Yeah. The feeling didn’t last long at all.

What is their idea? They told me a spoof on Goldilocks and the 3 bears. Ok, I say, what’s your spoof? Well, ok Ima, “Gedaliah and the three beers”. Apparently I need to buy 3 cases of different Canadian beers, so they can use the boxes and empty cans as their costume. Purim is in 3 weeks, and that means having to drink through three two-fours of beer. That’s 72 cans of beer. I love my kids, I adore them to distraction. But apparently I don’t love them enough because I am not willing to get rip roaringly drunk for the next 3 weeks. Would any of you be willing to make the sacrifice?

I shall send them to look for beer boxes behind the SAQ if they are that desperate.

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Loss of Innocence

This morning we had an interesting discussion in the twitterverse. My JewCrew and I had been discussing many theological issues since last night, including whether Halacha (Jewish Law) evolves or not. One of my tweeps brought up a valid point about whether certain acts became assur (forbidden) or if they led to a recommendation to not do something. Not technically wrong, but advised to abstain.

The example that was given was connected to marital relations. Sex isn’t supposed to happen in the daylight and is supposed to be performed in a certain way. I am not going to get into details here. These things are not forbidden per se, but the rabbis strongly advise against it. From where was this extrapolated by some meforshim (commentators)? From the Book of Esther. Chapter 5 verse 2.

“The King extended to Esther the golden scepter he was holding. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.”

Apparently, according to those meforshim, this is all a euphemism for a particular sexual act that Esther performed with such aplomb that King Achashverosh gave her half his kingdom. *

I sat in my chair shell shocked. This is Queen Esther we are talking about! The Queen who saved us, her people, from being destroyed by the evil Haman!! How can holy rabbis even think to paint her in this negative light? I am not mad at the JewCrew Tweeps. They were just doing what we all always do, passing on knowledge to foster understanding and more conversation. Yes, Queen Esther did what needed to be done in order to save us. I was quite happy sitting in my naïve little bubble thinking that we fasted, she made a feast, ratted Haman the Evil One out, and we were free. The End.

Now my reading of the megillah (scroll, in this case the Book of Esther) will be forever tainted with the idea that the innocent girl that married King Achashverosh in order to save the Jews  – was she a wanton hussy schooled in the erotic arts or was she a victim of the whole regime? It must be said that this is ONE of who knows how many explanations and could totally be misinterpreting the whole sentence. But I will never know, and that will now be in my head next Purim and every Purim after.

Why has this thrown me for a loop? It’s been on my mind all day. To me this seems almost sacrilegious. Perhaps it’s because I see myself as named after her in some way? The text calls her “Hadassah”. I guess Esther was her middle name and was used to identify her every subsequent time in the book. Not that I am so holy. I am not. But it’s almost like that moment when you realize your parent is a human being and not quite perfect. That pedestal didn’t seem quite so high after. It seems devastating to me to even think of Esther in a sexual context. Obviously our forefathers and foremothers were intimate with each other, otherwise we wouldn’t be here today. So why am I having such a hard time in dealing with this? Is it because I wonder if God forbid I was called upon to perform such an act to save my kids or my people – would I have the guts to follow through? Or is it because I now see her as perhaps more of a victim than she already was? So disturbed….

*this act was performed in broad daylight and sent the King into such a tizzy that he parted with half his kingdom, which is why we are warned against such behaviour. We don’t want to give away half of what we own for just a few minutes of blissful gratification.

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Purim was our first Jewish Holiday as man and wife – and what a fun one to start off with. Now, the KoD is more conservative than I am, so donning an Elvis costume was not something I was going to be able to convince him to do, but he enjoyed the fact that I got into the spirit of the holiday. Now, I dressed as my version of a goth, but was mistaken for Cher or a hooker (not quite sure where to go with those…)

Ok fine, here is a pic…….the wig was awful…..but I had fun going in to the local grocery story and wine store to pick up last minute supplies for our Purim dinner dressed like that. People looked twice. I just swaggered and smiled and left them shaking their heads.purim2009-0072

So Purim night we went to shul to hear the megillah, it must have been the hottest ticket in town, because in the ladies section there were a ton of women who had no seats and stood through the whole thing. Now remember, the day immediately preceding Purim is a fast, the Fast of Esther. Those who fast cannot break the fast till after the megillah is read. Standing to hear megillah in a hot stuffy room – it shouldn’t have been a surprise that someone fainted. But the poor girl was so embarrassed.

After megillah was over we went home to break our fast while the oldest of the clan, being all of 13 and a half went out with his mates to collect for tzedakah. He promised not to drink nor smoke, nor do anything he knows I don’t approve of. He kept his word. Prince HockeyFan went to a purim party in school and had fun and got to go to bed late.

I managed to get 4 out of the 5 males in my house out to shul by 630 in the morning, and the littlest prince didn’t awake till 830, so it gave me 2 solid hours to cook in preparation for the festive meal. I made the most delicious brisket – marinated in Jack Daniels and some other condiments, and slowly cooked for 4 hours on 300. The house smelt divine. I also made a chicken soup, chicken schnitzel, mashed taters, sweet potato soufflé with marshmallows (first time making it, was divine) and a bunch of salads.

The littlest guy and I ran to a megillah reading that Sir Julius, the Flying Dutchman, holds in his house for a few select people, and after we ran some errands. Once we had all reconvened back at the palace – we planned our route for delivering Mishloach Manot. The kids made finishing touched to their costumes – Prince Lenny was a Breslovver Hippie, Prince Squiggy, in keeping with the broken leg and crutches, was a pirate, Prince HockeyFan was the Karate Kid, and Prince ChatterBox was a businessman – and off we went.

I was so glad to have KoD here to navigate the streets – the madness and mayhem out there was astounding. NY assertive driving definitely helped! Plus I didn’t get stressed!! Kids running into the street without looking, horse drawn carriages clippity clopping down our one way streets, groups and gaggles of young male people traveling in drunken packs collecting from all and sundry – even coming up to car windows when the cars were in motion. I know it’s a happy holiday, but do the teen boys have to get drunk and / or stupid?

We spent a merry couple of hours delivering and receiving our gift baskets and oohing and ahhing over costumes. Then it was back to the palace to finish up the food preparation (for me) and to overdose on sugar (for the princes). I must say that having the KoD around to help in the kitchen was awesome – and I felt no need to chase him out for getting underfoot. He was totally helpful. Yes the kitchen is my domain, but I don’t mind sharing it. (Plus he washes dishes – definitely a keeper!!)

Our guests arrived at the appointed hour and a marvelously joyous time was had by all. A lot of wine was drunk (amazing how my wine glass stayed full no matter how much I sipped. Interesting theory I have on that, but I shall keep it to myself) and a lot of laughter and frivolity and singing of Broadway show tunes followed. The food was absolutely astounding – and the birthday cake was enjoyed by all.

All in all, it was a wonderful holiday, a happy happy happy day – what a way to celebrate – with family and friends and loved ones. We are all so blessed!!

Purim Insanity

I don’t subscribe to the insanity that Purim has become these days, with themes for mishloach manot etc. I am not a scrooge, I just don’t see the need for bankrupting oneself over one holiday. (Pesach, oy, don’t get me started on Pesach). People seem to go overboard spending a crazy amount of money on these food baskets for everybody that they know. I have had hot croissants and different jams delivered to my door at 7 am, a coffee assortment with fresh home baked danishes, an arrangement that looked like a sewing kit but was marzipan and cookies….seems like so much work that just doesn’t get appreciated.

The mitzvah of mishloach manot is to send two items of food to ONE person. Nowhere does it say that you HAVE to give to EVERYONE you know. Or that the basket needs to be ornate and that each one has to cost 25 bucks or more. I understand there is such a thing as Hiddur Mitzvah – but I think it gets totally out of hand. At the end of the holiday you always end up with a ton of junk food that you are never going to eat – it’s a waste.

My friends all know by now that I give a simple mishloach manot, to one person, usually the Rabbi, and if we go out for the seudah, then to them too. Otherwise where do you draw the line? I have friends who make up about 50 baskets!! BUT the kids are a different story. The way I see it much of Judaism can very easily be geared to getting the kids to learn lessons. In our house, the kids get to choose 3 or 4 friends that they want to give to, we make simple packages, decorate them nicely, but we don’t go crazy. Then we drive around the neighbourhood delivering the kids packages to their friends, and their rebbeim, and we soak up the atmosphere that is Purim in Montreal. The kids get to show off their costumes to their friends, and it’s a great carnival atmosphere.

It’s about spending time with family not spending more money than your neighbour. It’s a celebration. We overcame the evil Haman – it’s party time. Let’s celebrate being a nation that has survived countless attempts to finish us – do we have to spend a truckload of money to do so? Absolutely not.

Costumes don’t have to be pricey either – buy Halloween costumes that have gone on sale the day after Halloween, make them yourself, or borrow. I dress up every year, but generally something simple – funky wig, or hula skirt or something. The boys are a lot more inventive. Last year I gave Prince HockeyFan a real Mohawk for Purim, he was a punk – I was the coolest mom in town! (we neatened up his hair before Shabbat, don’t worry). If you just provide it all for the kids, where is their imagination? Let them come up with something on their own.

Anyhow, that’s my two cents about Purim. This year I get to share Purim with all of my men – its going to be awesome!!

Have a happy Purim – please do not drink and drive.