Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's going down in Shushan...


Dean Medina and myself,
 Pre-Shabbos Purim Tango

Written by: Shira Webber

Purim. Most Jews rank it highly on their list of favorite Jewish holiday celebrations. Who wouldn't love a holiday where it's a Mitzvah to get shikkered? I remember celebrating Purim growing up in Halifax, being the only Jewish kid in my class at public school. My mother always felt it was necessary to teach the class about each Jewish holiday as we celebrated them and insisted on making annual presentations to my class.Of all of my mother's holiday presentations, Purim is the one that resonates the most. I was in grade five when my mom came into my class unannounced dressed in full costume (as Queen Esther), handing out triangular shaped cookies.  I remember all of the kids' first reactions, which was an overall look that said, "does your mom know that  it's not Halloween?" Nobody actually ever asked though, because my mom's fairytale explanation of the holiday and it's significance to the Jewish people always cleared all the confusion. Since then, around the age of my Bat Mitzvah, Purim has been one of the Jewish holidays that I haven't really celebrated beyond indulging in a few poppy filled Hamantasche.  In other words, my 'gregor' has long since been covered in dust. This past weekend I was reminded of the meaning behind this holiday, and although my costume didn't go beyond a feather mask, this year's  Purim experience revived my love for this Jewish holiday. Here are a few of my favourite moments from this past weekend, which were undoubtedly experiences that have re-inspired me to get back on the annual Purim celebration train. 

Tamara Caplan and Myself
 ready for Purim celebrations!
I will drink to that
Community Connect, The House and JUMP set the Purim tone with a Masquerade Shabbos dinner, complete with extra L'chaims, amazing company and Purim stories filled with bits of  traditional insight from friends colleagues. Tamara Caplan (Program Director, The House)http://www.thehousetoronto.com/Default.aspx
taught me something new when she explained that Queen Esther (Hadassa, her real name) kept a pocket of seeds on her for sustenance in order to remain kosher while living in the Palace that often served traif. Imagine all theses years I was blindly eating poppy seed humantashen without really knowing the seeds' significance...

The mohn represent the seeds that Esther chose to eat
on her vegetarian diet in a traif court

Shalach manos
I vaguely remember getting "treat bags" as a child on Purim, and wasn't reminded of this tradition until  last Wednesday, when my 4 year old nephew Koby came running at me holding a bag of treats he received from Chabad Daycare, yelling "Mishloach Manot!" A few days later  when a girlfriend called with an idea, something she  likes to refer to as a "project", I was once again reminded of this childhood tradition. I haven't made Misloach manot packages for friends in years, but together my girlfriend and I created and "secretly" delivered 12 hand made Purim packages to our friends late Saturday night and Sunday morning.The mitzvah of giving mishloach  manot derives(as it is explained) from the Book of Esther. It is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to increase love and friendship among Jews as a counter to Haman's assertion that the Jewish people are characterized by strife and disunity. We had so much fun deciding what went into each package, including our best find and what I referred to as the 'piece de resistance', a mini bottle ice wine from the LCBO.  I can say with confidence that this is a Mitzvah that I will contine to practice for years to come.

One Night with the King

Saturday night was an evening full of Purim party options happening around the city.
While trying to decide with my friends which party to attend, a friend called and suggested we have our own Purim party, and invited us to her place to watch the movie "One Night with the King".  We decided this sounded like the most viable option in our state of exhaustion after preparing and delivering all of our Mishloach Manot packages. The movie was a cheese fest to say the least, but was totally worth the watch. It reminded me of the story of Purim and the true meaning behind the holiday, and King Achashverosh wasn't so hard on the eyes either.

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