Purim is a holiday that has evolved for me over the years; sadly to say I think that I am in a state of not really liking Purim much anymore. I understand it is one of the holiest days of the year, but I still just don’t seem to have much “fun” on the holiday. For instance I am not much of a drinker, I guess the idea of my hair being held out of the toilet bowl while I try and recall who Haman is just doesn’t appeal much, or the idea of running around with all the other goofy looking drunkards just doesn’t do it. Being sober in a yeshiva setting is great, because you got to look at all the people making fools of themselves, I always loved it when husbands tried to pull their wives sheitles off.
When you leave the yeshiva setting and set out for a normal purim you end up with several choices. You have the classic Havah Negilah Judaism parties which are kind of like mid year Matzo Balls (biggest secular Jewish Christmas parties) at which it’s a bunch of totally unaffiliated Jews grinding to heavy bass music and making L’chiams on most likely treif beverages.
Then you can go to a local shul which unless they are Chassidic, will probably suck. Besides for the part when Hamans name comes up the first time and the melee breaks out. In fact my shul growing up went a little nuts and the adults brought guns with blanks in them and so on.
Then you can go to the cousins, which we did every year back in the day. The food was good and we always felt weird being the only kids who weren’t ultra yeshivish.
The last option is the best one and that is to attend the festivities at a yeshiva of some sort. In my opinion the only true celebrators of purim are the yeshivas, they just know how to throw together Purim shpiels and get drunk enough to fulfill the mitzvah. On top of this there has been a movement in recent years- probably started by modern orthodox factions at YU- to try and stop the drinking on Purim. Fine with me if they introduce Shrooms or some other hallucinogen into the mix. Maybe we can do Purim Ken Kessey style- the electric purim acid test yo!
Of course we cannot forget the food, in fact shalach manos and all of its glory brings back many fond memories. I can remember my father scrambling around for makeshift baskets for people we didn’t expect to bring us- because shallach manos ettutquette states that you must give to whomever gives you, of course this always created problems for us as we rummaged through the pile of stuff we intended to give away and make a quick bag of stuff.
The worst was when you gave a shallach manos and suddenly you received one far better then what you gave. Your little paper bag failing in comparison to the huge behemoth of tissue paper and confetti string with all the bells and whistles of a fancy “I bet I can out do you” shallach manos. In fact I was reading that this may be another “crisis” in the frum community because it takes too much money to keep up with the Cohens.
Until I ventured to Israel I thought Israeli wafers were made specifically around Purim time for shallach manos, I never knew they were the cheapest food in Israel and that it was how large families in Geula fed themselves. I also loved seeing the insides of people houses when I dropped stuff off, because in Manhattan you don’t just drop by except for on Purim.
As the pile of goodies grew in our kitchen, the pile of stuff we would make as a fancy basket to give to our cousins we would be having the seuda by in Monsey grew. It was usually made up of rejected stuff by my brother and I and a few fancy looking nut dishes. I never understood how someone could spend $8 on a tray of nuts, but we always gave them away.
Fast forward to my days living in Rochester and all was changed. In Rochester everyone had their own theme and they stuck to it. It kept costs down and creativity and intrigue up. Besides the fancy shallach manos you see in Monsey and Brooklyn are all tissue papers and actually cost a hell of a lot less then what they charge. So one year I decided to do my own theme. I usually give 2-4 shallach manos. I used to just give my roommate a can of tuna and a cliff bar or something.
So I made my own theme this one year, brilliant if I may add. I put 40oz bottles of Malt liquor into a paper bag like drunken guys drink while in the street, then I put a mini-cake like those that people who are on drugs eat a lot of and I wrote on the paper bag “GHETTO SHALLACH MANOS” and I was cool for a limited time, at least in the eyes of the 3 people I gave it to.
So this year I am in a completely new place and of course no one really invited me anywhere, so I basically decided to cop out and just stay with the cousins in Monsey. I really wanted to check out one of these so called “singles purim parties” but I am out of the loop and therefore have no information of whereabouts- if you know of any interesting Purim events tonight- hook it up- email me [email protected]