Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shver tsu zein a Conservative Yid on Purim

Shver tsu zein a Yid--it's hard to be a Jew.

And it's even harder to be a Conservative Jew, when it comes to Purim.

This is the time of year when I'm most acutely aware of the vast difference in observance and community between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox. Everyone goes to High Holiday services, lights Chanukah candles, goes to a Seder. But in all my 59 years, I've never heard of any Conservative Jew holding a Seudat Purim (special festival meal for Purim), as mandated by Jewish law. (Maybe I've missed a few, especially some in Conservative rabbinical and cantorial circles.)

It's even worse than the Conservative record for making a blessing on a lulav and etrog and eating in a sukkah, or pulling their kids out of school for Simchat Torah--after all, on Sukkot and Simchat Torah, I don't get upset about giving out a couple dozen mishloach manot packages every year for over 20 years and getting, at most, four in return. Sigh.

Every Purim, it's Little House on the Prairie. :(


Blogger elf's DH said...

On some days, I identify as Conservative, and I grew up in a Conservative synagogue.

I didn't know what a seudat Purim was until I went to college. For the past five years, my wife and I have hosted a seudat Purim of varying size (usually by the day of the week; Sunday is usually the most popular, Friday is pretty low-attendance, especially given the midday limit on starting) in our community. Both Orthodox and Conservative/egal people come. We give away on the order of tens of mishloach manot packages and receive back about as many. There is some hope.

Sun Mar 23, 11:41:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just have to pick the right Conservative community...ours did a communal seudat mitzvah, organized mishloach manot for the community, and I received more mishloach manot than sent (embarassed to admit)...of course, the fact that my community is in Jerusalem might have something to do with it!! :-)

Rav Barry

Sun Mar 23, 03:21:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

ELF's DH, I'd never heard of a seudat Purim as a child, either. I can't remember exactly when I first became aware of the exist of such a tradition. The problem is that no one else in this neighborhood has ever heard of it, either, apparently.

If you could spare some of that mishloach manot that you've received . . . :)

Bleff/Rav Barry, you said "of course, the fact that my community is in Jerusalem might have something to do with it!" Probably. :)

Sun Mar 23, 06:30:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

I'd LOVE to have a seudat Purim, but of course it just isn't done in Recon circles either, at least out here.

I do find that giving out mishloach manot is VERY satisfying, but more so when the people I'm delivering them to are actually home (especially when you start wondering if they're out of town and will come back to a very soggy bag and stale cookies).

Not so keen on receiving the Purim baskets - unless the giver is a really good baker. Bad Cohen, of course, is always up for free food. :)

Mon Mar 24, 01:47:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Tzipporah, it's only since I've been working for an Orthodox non-profit organization that I finally figured out the secret of Purim: The frummies *take the day off*! How else could people (a) be home to make their own Seudat Purim or be available to attend one, and (b) be home to deliver and receive mishloach manot packages door to door?

In the galut/diaspora, we need 14--yep, *14*--days off to observe all of the Jewish holiday, folks:

Rosh Hashanah 1
Rosh Hashanah 2
Yom Kippur
Sukkot 1
Sukkot 2 (galut/diaspora only)
Shemini Atzeret
S.A's 2nd day (galut),Simchat Torah
Pesach 1
Pesach 2 (galut/diaspora only)
Pesach 7
Pesach 8 (galut/diaspora only)
Shavuot 1
Shavuot 2 (galut/diaspora only)
(If you don't want to work on a full-day fast, make that 15 days, including Tisha B'Av).

Who among us Heebs is willing to sacrifice all or most of his/her vacation time to observe all of the Jewish holidays, and/or to lose pay for doing so if our employers don't give us that much vacation time? You got it: the frummies. Purim is their reward.

As my husband said, there's only one solution . . . (and neither of us is ready for that).

Mon Mar 24, 09:01:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

As my husband said, there's only one solution . . .

Retire? :)

Thu Mar 27, 11:26:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I wish! I won't be eligible for Social Security for another eight years.

Seriously, can you imagine the two of us becoming Orthodox? My husband, though more knowledgeable than I, is not as observant, and I'm too feminist and lacking in faith.

Thu Mar 27, 03:59:00 PM 2008  

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