Tuesday, March 02, 2010

One last Purim post

When I read threads other people post about their Mishloach Manot-giving there is usually a very telling common theme.

Giving to their friends and neighbors who more often than not, attend the same shul (or one similar), attend the same (or similar) schools... in short, are more often than not just like them.

A few years ago my husband and I decided that instead of making a list of all our friends on the Yishuv to give our Mishloach Manot to, we'd cut 4 off our list and give those 4 to other people in the community that we don't socialize with (and the fact that my husband doesn't speak Hebrew made it easy to find folks we simply nod hello to and have nothing else to do with).

One year the Yishuv arranged a 'Gamad Anak' (think secret santa) type of exchange for Shabbat Zachor. We got a very Sefaradi family so I made them an 'Ashkenazi Kiddush Club' basket - herring, gefilte fish, crackers, potato kugel and a bottle of vodka.

They didn't like it.

Last Purim was our first in Ariel and we were in a larger community where the majority aren't religious. I was also 39 weeks pregnant and feeling a million weeks pregnant. I made very simplE roasted garlic hummus and lavash crackers to give out and while my daughters went out and delivered, for the most part I gave to whomever came to the door. Our random giving was to the Russian taxi drivers who took us to Megilla reading and brought us back home.

This year we're still in Ariel but in a different house. I know many of our neighbors by sight and the fact that the boys and I go out almost every day, we have a 'hello, how are you?' relationship with some of them. We're also one of the few religious families on this section of street. (The street is made up of a series of row houses. The houses have 8 attached units).

The weather for Purim was terrible. Torrential rain, hail, thunder and the wind was bad. There was a break in the weather enough for the boys and I to get to Megillah reading (5 minute walk with a double stroller) and on the way home, I gave a Mishloach Manot to one of the neighbors we often see caring for her garden. At least I think that was her house. A man (most likely her husband) answered the door...

A few units down on the other side is a house we pass almost every day. They have a white wrought iron fence and some nice lemon trees in their front yard. Nati likes looking at the lemons and smelling them.

I knocked on their door to deliver the Mishloach Manot and one of the older sons answered. I handed him the small package and wished him a Purim Same'ach.

About an hour later there was a knock on the door. It was the guy and he handed me a shopping bag. He wished me a happy Purim and told me that everything had a Badatz hechsher (one of the more ultra-Orthodox kosher certifications) and then left.

I looked inside and it was 2 bags of salted pretzels and a bag of sesameed pretzels.

I have to say, I'm rather proud of getting this. In all likelihood, this was probably the first Mishloach Manot this man has given in many years... if ever.

My policy of going out of the box for a bit paid off. Giving Mishloach Manot shouldn't be about giving to the next door neighbor whose own table is full of brightly wrapped or bagged goodies. It should be about taking the opportunity to expand your 'cookie cutter' circle of friends to find new, interesting and different Jews by handing them a bag of nosh. It should be about giving to someone who otherwise wouldn't be Yotzeh the Mitzvah (granted, finding a secular Jew might be easier here in Israel).

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