With the closing of Hostess, Ruth Abusch-Magder found herself ruing the loss of the Ding Dong, a snack she had not eaten since before her bat mitzvah.
Debra Nussbaum Cohen recently wrote a wonderful and impassioned post about teaching our daughters to use tefillin. As the mother of a daughter who has indicated interest in wearing tefillin when she reaches Bat Mitzvah age, I was glad to see others thinking about this issue. Yet as important pieces like this are, the challenge to gender roles in Judaism always seems to be unidirectional.
Masquerades, double identities, and hidden truths are the very essence of Purim, the story, the parties, the carnivals, and as it turns out the food too. Traditionally, across the Jewish landscape, food was as integral to Purim celebrations as it was to Passover or Rosh Hashana. In addition to gifts of food, there is the mandatory celebratory meal, the Purim Se’udah or feast. The menu of this meal historically varied by community with local tastes and traditions. But common across the landscape were “hidden foods,” which looked like one thing on the outside, but like the story of Ester revealed secrets below the surface. Folding, rolling, stuffing and cramming away from rabbinic view, Jewish women through the generations created culinary complements to hidden motifs of the Purim story.