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.