Lately I have been walking around the house humming “I Love the Day of Purim” song. It’s admittedly very catchy. My kitchen has been busy with tray after tray of Hamentashen baking, and I can’t help but scramble to come up with recipes to use up all the chametz before Pesach begins in early April.
But as religious as my family is, there are things we do as a Jewish family that are a bit un-traditional as well. My family has an interfaith background. And many of our family members are spread out all over the globe. So when the holidays come it is very difficult to get everyone together to celebrate. Purim, this year, has been no exception.
On Purim it is a mitzvot to give mishloach manot (food portions) away to at least two people. This stems from the Megillah portion where Mordechai encouraged the Jewish people to feast, be merry, and give portions away to friends and family. And so today in 2015 we still give mishloach manot. It seems though every year Jewish families get a little bit more creative in their Purim gift baskets. But what do you do if you come from an interfaith background where family practices different religions? What do you do if your family is spread across the globe and a hamentashen would be stale by the time it reached its destination? How do you still practice this mitzvot while honoring the multi-cultural boundaries of your family?
Here are several ideas we came up with in our family:
1. Put together “gift boxes” of non-perishable things.
USPS has the flat rate shipping boxes that are a perfect container to put mishloach manot into for shipping to other states. You can fill the boxes with noisemakers, party hats, coloring pictures, and then pack all of the pre-measured “dry goods” in a mason jar as well as a sealed jar of jam and wrap it up to ship to your loved ones!
2. Give mishloach manot to those truly in need.
The Torah does not specifically state that we give only to family and friends. Never does a day pass by that driving around I don’t see someone on the street who looks hungry and tired. Make small bags of hamentashen, nuts, and fruit, and hand them out to homeless individuals in your area. (Or if safety reasons prohibits you from doing so, stop by a shelter and talk to a director about donating your mishloach manot packages to the people there).
3. Send Hamentashen or extra food goodies to co-workers.
I don’t know about where you work, but our co-workers love getting free food. Religious or not, they love a tasty cookie. So before those extra hamentashen get stale, toss some in a Zip-lock bag and send them to your husbands work or with your child to school. They will be a hit among their friends.
No matter what background your family practices, it is okay for you and your children to spread the joy, love, and friendship that embodies Purim. I hope you all had a wonderful Purim, and may that love continue throughout the rest of the year. Todah rabah!