Double the Fun!

When I was growing up in Jerusalem, the Purim celebrations were particularly special for me.  The week before the holiday, we started baking hamantaschen and shopping for sweets.

As is well-known, nearly everyone celebrates Purim on the 14th day of the month of Adar, except in Jerusalem where it is celebrated on the 15th.  We, who were lucky enough to have relatives living outside of Jerusalem, had the opportunity to celebrate for two days — which made it double the fun.

On the 14th of Adar, my whole family would pack ourselves off to Nonni’s [grandparents’], traveling on the 400 bus to B’nei B’rak (in later years, we took the car), dressed in costumes and staggering under the weight of our Mishloach Manot. The sights on the way there were vastly entertaining: noisy streets bursting with Chassidim who flapped around in their long coats, briskly walking and bearing platters of roast turkey or bottles of sparkling wine as Mishloach Manot offerings; children exploding party firecrackers, dressed as the latest enemy leader, a bride, a biblical hero, or as a Jewish object – a Torah, Megillah scroll, even a mezuzah.

Nonna’s apartment was always crammed with family members, the mothers bragging about the beautiful hand-made costumes they made for us children. My Nonna had the table laid exquisitely with the Purim sweets she herself had made: chiachere, Italian hamantaschen, and travados, a Turkish pastry glazed with syrup. Nonna gave all the little cousins Purimlik (gelt for Purim). 

After we concluded our seudah, we hurried back to Jerusalem on the same day, arriving just in time to go to our Shul, hear the Megillah reading, and show off our costumes to our friends.

The next morning, we would run around the neighborhood apartment buildings to deliver Mishloach Manot to everyone we knew. The comical part of this mission was the inevitable moment when the stock of goodies was depleted—my father was constantly handing them out to all the passers-by. With a gift bearer waiting in the living room, my mother would ferociously improvise Mishloach Manot by borrowing provisions from some of the baskets we had been gifted. Of course, none of the mothers in our family were excited to have chametz in the house prior to Pesach, so they happily sent the stuff out into the world. And sometimes. . . they got it back. The famous joke tells that your Mishloach Manot could travel full-circle and end up back in your hands. 

We concluded the day with a scrumptious dinner at our home: meat, wine, and desserts—all the fixings.  When we finally went to bed, our dreams were sweet indeed.

Purim Sameach!

— La Rabinessa Liora