Brace yourself! Yes, once again we celebrate the survival of our people with Purim. It is either your favorite holiday or your most hated. Sugar-gorged kids in face paint and costumes, screaming their heads off and making as much noise as possible… some may find it joyful, but I think that Dante would have written about it had he gone on to describe a few more circles of hell. But one has an obligation to hear the reading of the megillat ester, with the requisite noisemakers drowning out the name of hated Haman, so I’ll don the old cow costume and head out to beit knesset this evening. There is also the tradition to drink “ad sheh lo yodeah“—until you don’t know—meaning, until you are so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between Mordechai (our hero) and Haman (the evil enemy). Or as my friend Bracha says, “till you can’t tell Obama from Amidijad.”
Costumes, when I was a kid, were Queen Ester for girls and Mordechai for boys. Gradually, things got more wild and more mainstream, with today’s kids dressing as Batman or cowboys or ninja turtles. Best costume ever was when my sister Tracy turned me into a hamantaschen (oznei haman). She’s still using her creative talents. Check out her guinea pigs, Hunca Munca and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, in ersatz Purim costumes:
It is also the time for mishloach manot, the custom of sending treats (generally three different things). This, too, has morphed from the traditional pastries of the season to commercially-available gift baskets of candies. But I am surprised yesterday by this gorgeous bouquet of flowers:
It arrives with chocolates (of course) and this card:
Wow! Happy clients are always good, but when the participants in the course send you flowers and say that your course was practical, interesting, and extensive (and a “rare combination,” at that), then you know that you’re doing something right!