In the Christopher Guest movie, “For Your Consideration,” actors are filming a movie titled “Home for Purim.” Now, Purim is a joyous Jewish holiday, one in which gifts are given and people make charitable donations and so forth. But the gentle joke contained in the fictitious movie title is that Purim isn’t one of those holidays people make flight reservations for. Just as Christians don’t flock to the airports to rush home for Maundy Thursday.
I married into a Jewish family 22 years ago. My introduction to Purim came in the mail. It was a Folger’s coffee can packed full of little triangular pastries, some filled with sweet poppy-seed paste, some with prunes from my mother-in-law, Marjorie Miron. She made and sent these cookies, called Hamantashen (sometimes spelled “Hamantaschen”) nearly every year.
For those unacquainted with Purim, here is a brief history. The word “hamantashen” means Haman’s pockets. Who is Haman? Wikipedia explains, “(Purim is the) celebration of Jewish deliverance as told in the Book of Esther. After the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the Jews were taken into the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. When ancient Persia took control, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, planned to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Esther and Mordecai.”
Purim traditions include drinking wine, playing games, dressing in costumes and other entertainments, and the giving of gifts of food and wine as well as religious readings and prayer. The holiday is this weekend, Sunday, starting at sundown Saturday night.
It wasn’t until after Marjorie’s death nearly three years ago that it occurred to me that I might learn to make the cookies myself. But, when the next Purim came along, along came a package of Hamantashen to our mailbox. My sister-in-law in Dallas had decided to pick up the cookie baton from her mom. For that, we are grateful to Leah Rae. Her cookies are made with such care: delicious and lovely to look at, as you can see in the photo above. Certainly we are glad to get cookies in the mail, but also happy to have a sister keeping this tradition alive.
Photos by Bonnie Walker