In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2007 / 10 Adar, 5766

Who stole the hamantaschen from the cookie jar?

By Chani Kurtz

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Signs of the times: Purim is rapidly approaching, I have shopped until I dropped, and I have yet to see one prominent display of Lekvar or apricot jam in the front of any of my local stores.

It is not as though Purim has disappeared. The chic candy, nuts, and confectionery store in my neighborhood has its annual trailer parked in the front, allowing plenty of room for baskets, boxes and bags of every conceivable type, at every conceivable price range. The housewares store is running a mega sale, astutely aware that holidays generate spending, and trusting that women will be lured by great prices on elegant giftware and upscale pots. The shelves of the closeout store are stocked with inexpensive plastic storage containers, floral nesting boxes, and funky oddities that "might work." The paper goods stores have expanded their offerings of cute shopping bags to include coordinating colored cellophane and shredded cellophane grass, and rolls of curling ribbon to match them. The grocery stores have an endless variety of "2 for a dollar," "4 for a dollar," and even "8 for a dollar" goodies. The takeout store will be more than happy to provide kreplach or stuffed cabbage, depending on your family's custom. Even the local florist has a sign in the window that he is taking orders for Purim, though I'm not quite sure what he's thinking.

The only significant absence seems to be the display I'm looking for — the traditional jars of Simon Fisher prune Lekvar, the large size apricot preserves, and the newer raspberry and strawberry fillings that my kids have asked for. In fact, were it not for a few boxes in the prepackaged baked goods section, one could forget that Purim used to mean hamantashen.

Many people seem to have opted out of Purim entirely. Exhausted and overwhelmed by the monster we have created, they do not want to look at another piece of candy, think up another "theme" or stuff another shopping bag. Some choose to go to married children out of town, bringing the one mishlo'ach manos mandated by Halacha (Jewish Law), and congratulating themselves on the long list of tedious obligations they have eliminated. Others will hop on a plane, secure in the knowledge that the cost of the ticket will be more than offset by the savings of not giving mishlo'ach manos and (dare we admit it?) of not opening the door on Purim night.

Most the women I know, however, do seem to be doing some sort of planning. Even if they have elected to buy professionally assembled goodie baskets or dried fruit and nut platters, there is still a seuda (festive meal) to consider. They are calling friends and sisters-in-law, comparing notes on what they made and what they are thinking of making, looking for something novel and interesting. They are pulling cookbooks off the shelf, glossy new cookbooks that feature elegant new dishes, beautifully arranged. It not only has to taste good, it has to look chic as well. To paraphrase the real estate agents, the three most important elements of nouvelle cooking are presentation, presentation, and presentation.

Poor hamantashen. They're time-consuming to make — all that rolling and filling and folding. They just won't work in an elegant presentation, with ice cream on the side, all drizzled with exotic sauces. They're not going to replace triple chocolate anything as a blowout desert.

But I'm going to make them anyway. I'm going to do it so the little ones can help. Never mind that it will take twice as long with their "help," and that spoons full of sticky stuff will end up all over the kitchen floor. Never mind that the sides will be lopsided, that the corners will open during baking, and the filling will ooze all over the place. They'll get eaten straight out of the oven anyway, and they'll taste just fine.

We'll try to eat the messy ones, and save the pretty ones for Purim. After all, we want the mishlo'ach manos to look appealing. But somewhere between wrapping the baskets up with the bows, and wrapping the last bits of chopped meat into their kreplach dough, we're going to try and stop, and remember the point of all this wrapping.

Purim is about concealment, about seeing behind the fašade. Purim is about a time when nothing was what it seemed, and we had to peer behind the masks to see the truth emerge. Before there was the obvious threat of a Haman, there was a more insidious threat veiled as a party. The Megilla (Book of Esther) tells us that all were invited, and that the wine flowed freely. The Sages tell us that the Jews were included among the invited, and that the wine that flowed so freely included kosher wine. Only when Haman demanded that all bow down to him were the Jews required to set themselves apart, and to blatantly declare their differences from those around them.

Even then, the miracle was a discreet one, as the Divine's outstretched hand concealed itself behind the outstretched scepter of "the king."

Purim and Yom Hakipurim. We know that there are no coincidences, and that each letter tells its own story. The masks and the merriment are the obvious manifestations of a deeper truth, that there is a hidden lesson that we dare not forget.

And if Purim is really about looking within, how can I let presentation displace my hamantash?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Chani Kurtz is a Brooklyn-based writer and high school teacher. Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Jewish Observer