A worthy Purim tradition is getting out of control — capitalism meeting religion at its very best. Or worst.
Growing up, Purim was my absolute favorite holiday. I went to a yeshiva for elementary school, and Purim was always a big hit there. The school put on a quasi-carnival with raffles and games, leaving me covered in shaving cream after attempts to shave a balloon without popping it. Everyone dressed up in lavish costumes and celebrated the extraordinary story of Esther overcoming the evil Haman to save the Jews from yet another attempt to destroy the nation.
Come Purim, I know what my friends are expecting from me. They want to find a bottle of home-made limoncello or coffee liqueur nestled among the hamentaschen in their Mishlochei Manot, Purim care-packages and I’m happy to oblige. Limoncello’s bright lemon taste is true to the fruit, while the coffee liqueur releases a wonderful hit of intense coffee flavor in the mouth. Neither are over-sweet nor artificially cloying, which is one reason they’re so popular, but they are also simply a beautiful, flavorful and unique holiday gift to give to friends.
On Purim, the standard Jewish holiday cliffnote, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” gets a special addition: “Let’s help other people eat, too.” Purim, which starts Saturday night and goes through Sunday, is a holiday that not only requires a banquet (se’udah), but also that we send gifts of good food to our friends, and help out the less fortunate in our community, as per Mordecai’s specific request in the book of Esther: “And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters to all the Jews…that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending food one to another, and gifts to the poor.”(Esther 9:20-22)
Purim might just be the perfect Jewish foodie holiday — we are required to feast, drink in revelry and to give one another food presents, or mishloach manot. The latter is the perfect project for passionate cooks and anyone who is testing the waters with DIY gifts.