Friday, March 02, 2007

Jews Love: Purim

Harley will take care of the blog round-up, so instead I'm going to share something a little bit different. While we were trying to come up with a good podcast for Jameel (we managed to do about 30 of them, as Ezzie points out, honestly, we thought that we were erasing!) we realized that we aren't the biggest fans of Purim, and here are our reasons why:

1) Hamentaschen: good in theory, not so much in practice. The cookie is often dry, and the cookie: jam ratio is a delicate thing, much like cereal:milk. They are often pareve (dairy-free), and a cookie without butter is not a cookie worth eating.

2) Paucity of Girls' Costumes: you can be Esther, or you can be Esther. Although I guess you could be Vashti, but how do you differentiate? Laurel Snyder has one suggestion: "wear black," but that isn't really true to the story. My mom used to suggest that there were two ways to be Vashti: wear a nametag (she was a big fan of the nametags for esoteric costumes); wear only crown and jewelry, and no clothes. While Vashti technically refused to do that, it would certainly make a statement.

3)Questionable Moral Content: Vashti refuses to strip, and she is banished, whereas Esther sleeps with the king (a non-Jew!), and she is the heroine of the story. Do we really want to be telling little girls that their power is sexual power over men? And that, that is heroic?

4) Celebrating a Massacre: at the end of the story the Jews arm themselves (why couldn't they have done that without the king's decree?) and slaughter their enemies. They are so filled with bloodlust that they ask for, and are granted a second day to do so. I can't really get behind the celebration of a massacre, no matter how "just" or "provoked."

5) Make Merry with Wine: part of the festival is a festival meal, or seudah, during which you are supposed to drink more wine than you are accustomed to doing. In my case that would be any, as I am not a big drinker. Anyway, how are you supposed to celebrate with wine when kosher/supervised wine is so bad? Yeah, there is some good supervised wine, but boiling does not improve it.

6) Megilla=Long: that is why we say, when referring to "the whole thing" we often say "the gantze megilla." While this year is a bit different (as the fast day did not immediately precede the holiday), usually you are sitting, trying hard to hear every word, and REALLY hungry. I am not a fan.

7) Mishloach Manot Competitiveness: the mishloach manot, or giftbaskets are often another way for people to showcase their wealth/creativity/spare time. It almost seems like you have to have them dipped in gold to be good enough for your neighbors/friends/the secular Jews whom you are supposed to be mkareve'ing. For the record I gave out a plastic solo cup with a mini V8, mini vodka, celery stalks, and pretzels. I wanted to add little hot sauces, but I couldn't find them. Lame. And mine are SO much better than CJ's.

8)No Interpretive Megilla Dance: this one is Harley's. She claims that it is a "damn shame" that the rabbi does not allow her to perform (in simulcast) an interpretive megilla dance from the bimah.

9) Not Good for Asthmatics: I can never leyn certain parts of the megilla, as I don't have enough lung capacity to read the names of all 10 of Haman's sons in one breath.

10) Extra-Biblical: and you know how much we love the bible here. We super-double love it.


Sherbs said...

We made our humantaschen with butter. And chocolate. I agree that, when parve, humantaschen suck. But only mildly. Unless they have poopy seeds, in which case, they really suck.

Annie said...

I actually like poppy seed hamantaschen.

Smeliana said...

Our hamentaschen did not just have butter, but they had dark chocolate and strawberry combined. Bam!!

(This is not in competition with Sherbs, but rather a supplementary description. She is my hamentaschen-making partner.)

Sherbs said...

What is it with the family of annie and poppy seed humantaschen? I hear that your big brother likes them? I think my hatred for them stems from the fact that they always looked like chocolate ones and then WERE NOT. Ick!

Annie said...

Smel- I so want one.

Sherbs- Poppyseed are good if you aren't expecting chocolate, and if there is lots of filling. It is sweet, and goey, but not too cloying.

suzy said...

My family and I give out simple mishloach manos. This year we're going to put some goodies in a nice gray gift bag and then send it out.

Btw, we're Not celebreting massacreing our enemies. We're celebrating that our enemies did not massacre us.

Happy purim

Anonymous said...

Esther had to marry the king in order to save her people

Annie said...

Suzy- good call on the part of your family.

Anon- thats how it worked out, that b/c Esther was in a position of power she could help the Jews. But no one could have known that she would be instrumental, or that there would be need (things were going pretty well for the Jews in Shushan) before that point. Also, her sleeping with the king was a precursor to marriage, he was "trying out" all of the beautiful women. What if she hadn't been picked as queen, would it still have been justified?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

LOL OMG every time i think your podcast is going on too long it just gets funnier and funnier. great job!

FrumSatire said...

Ok the real problem with hamentashen is that the large big box corporations like Streits which has already cornered the matzo market- has taken to the cost cutting practice of making the walls of the hamentashen very steep- which prevent the seepage of the jam into the far reaches of the hamentashen- this makes it fel like a jelly donut with no jelly- it takes forever to get to the center. Mr Owl- How many bites does it take to get to the center of a hamentashen?

mazeartist said...

As competitive as we are regarding Mishloah manot, the gifts in the bag must be limited to food items, usually pareve. I do fear that the more sweet gifts I receive, the more visits to the dentist I will need.

Jack's Shack said...

What is a chag without a good massacre.

orieyenta said...

This post made me laugh so much but not as much as the podcast of this post made me laugh! You gals are too funny. Hope you both had a wonderful Purim. (And if you're ever down my way, let us know. Little Orieyenta and I would be glad to show you a good hamentaschen!)

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i didn't get the extrabiblical part, though... what's up with that? Esther is in the Tanakh... are you from Qumran or something?

Annie said...

Steg- first, thanks for the compliments, we always love them. Secondly, while megillat Esther is in the Tanakh, what we meant to say was that it isn't in the five books of Moses. Also, as you noted with your Qumran reference, recent scholarship suggests that as Esther wasn't included among the dead sea scrolls, that it was not canonized at that time.

Frum Satire- my mom just sent me a box of her homemade hamentaschen, which I am ashamed to admit I don't love. If you want to share, I hear that they stack up pretty well against others.

Matzeartist- yeah, of course the baskets must contain food, I was just trying to reference how silly the competition gets. I was at the roommate's house, and some of the things that people in her shul gave out were just ridiculous.

Jack- no chag that I'd like to celebrate.

Orieyenta- thanks for the offer, we'll definitely take you up on it if we're ever in your neighborhood.

YS said...

1) Yeast Hamentaschen - damn fine
2) This year I saw :Little Red Riding Hood, Goth Chick, Raindrops, Indian Sari's... Plenty of womens costumes.
3) Moral: Do what ya' gotta do to get through
4) A good question
5) Hello!! There are some fine fine kosher wines. I had good reds, whites, and good port.
6) Review it beforehand, understand it. It's a good story.
7) Buy your roommate (or one-night stand) breakfast. Healthy and tastey!
8,9,10) I said enough.

Annie said...

YS- as CJ would say, "thats just, like, your opinion, man."

Although to clarify, the piece was tongue-in-cheek, I am familiar with the story, and I meant "traditional women's costumes." And last, but not least, CJ would probably not like to be referred to as a "one night stand."