Purim: Jewish Feminism?

We think that it’s no coincidence that Purim falls in March, which is National Women’s History Month. Purim always calls for the reading of the Book of Esther, the woman who embodies Jewish resistance to annihilation. That’s what we call girl-power, Kosher-style!

Rabbinic tradition tells us that Esther was one of the four most beautiful Jewish women of all time (Sarah, Rahab and Abigail were the others). What you may not know about Esther is that her Hebrew name was Hadassah (meaning “myrtle tree”), now familiar to us as the benevolent organization of women who work in support of the Jewish community, and the larger world-community, too.

She was a Jewish orphan who became the most powerful woman on earth, by marrying King Ahasueras , King of Persia. Was it looks alone? Was it that year-long makeover that Esther experienced, with all of those aromatic baths, oils, myrrh and perfumes? Not likely – King Ahasueras had lots of options. He was, after all, the world’s most eligible bachelor! Yes, he had a harem. And of all the babes in the realm, he chose Esther as his queen. And the rest is history.

Our advice for Purim: enjoy a lovely bath, a nice massage with aromatherapy oils, and put on your favorite jewelry in celebration of Esther, and women everywhere.

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Relaxing at the Lady Spa


Making Pireshkes (aka Hamentaschen)

The cookies before baking   Growing up in Denver, my Aunt Blanche started a family tradition of baking pireshkes for Purim.  Even when we moved to California, those pireshkes came every year, packed carefully and shipped to us in a shoe box.  We’ve carried on this tradition by baking every year at Purim time, and this year the grandchildren were able to partake in the event.

Have any terrific recipes to share?  We are going to share ours with you, hope you enjoy it!  Have a very Happy Purim.  We’ll be thinking of our Auntie this holiday while we eat, and eat, and eat our pireshkes.


Recipe from Aunt Blanche Schiff, as written in the cookbook,  Cookarama, Sisterhood of Congregation Hebrew Educational Alliance 1976, Denver, Colorado

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp almond extract

1 orange, juice and rind

3 heaping cups of all purpose flour

1 heaping tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

Cream together the eggs, sugar and oil.  Add almond extract, orange juice and rind.  Add dry ingredients slowly until able to handle dough.  Divide dough into 3 parts, and add more flour as needed.  Roll dough on floured pastry board.  cut dough with cookie cutter or glass, and place a teaspoon of filling in each round.  Pinch together to look like a hamentasch triangle.  Place pireshke on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1/2 hour, or until golden brown.  Yield about 4 dozen.


1 lb. extra large prunes, ground  (she was adamant about the size of the prunes, and collect boxes all year long.  In fact, she said you can only find them in California and bring them back to Denver in her suitcase.)

1/2 lb. black raisins

1 orange, juice and rind

1 lemon, juice only

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  (Modern day– use Cuisinart and pulse all ingredients)

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Let’s Lighten Up for Purim

At first glance, the Jewish calendar seems to be strewn with solemn sacred occasions.  Many holidays do command reverence in its most solemn forms, such as atonement.

Then there’s Purim.

Traditions vary, depending upon where in the Jewish world you are. It’s safe to say that Purim is triumphant, noisy, even rowdy, and brings a playful carnival atmosphere to this holiday which will be observed come sundown March 19-20, 2011.

One of the most universal Purim celebrations is the giving of  mishloach manot.  The Book of Esther—and Esther really is the heroine behind Purim—commands us to give gifts of food (or money for food) to the needy.  And, many people do more than this—friends and families exchange yummy gifts, too.  Baskets of cookies, especially the buttery poppy-seed treats known as “Hamantaschen”, are a Purim classic, and lots of other favorites find their way into Purim gifts. In this sense, we consider Queen Esther to be the grandmother of the modern-day “goody-bag’!

Our suggestion: in addition to snacks and sweets that will be gone before you can say, “baruch Mordecai” (“Blessed be Mordecai”), include a gorgeous, enduring piece of Alef Bet jewelry in your special Purim gift-baskets.

Our selection includes many small treasures, such as a bendel bracelet featuring the simple red “protection” cord, clasped by a delicate hamsa in sterling silver (our stock #: bendel-15a). Or maybe a dainty, sterling silver hamsa necklace with a Chai charm (our stock #: 905-18), or a gemstone bracelet— one of our popular Bat Mitzvah items, too. Lots to choose from, something sweet and lasting to celebrate a joyful Purim.

Bendel BraceletChamsa and Chai Necklace

Hamsa and Gemstone Bracelet

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