Sunday, February 28, 2010

Purim Day--the morning was mixed

This morning, not only did we get a decent crowd for Shacharit/Morning Service, we got a minyan early enough that we were able to do the Bar'chu prayer, much to my surprise. The service itself went pretty well, with only a bit of extra speed to the Megillah reading (chanting of the Book of Esther from a megillah/scroll).

But the breakfast afterward was problematic. For openers, between the Torah reading and the Megillah reading, we were running so much later than usual that our regular Sunday noon renters were already getting started while we were still doing Birkat HaMazon/Grace after Meals. For closers, I made the serious tactical error of giving out our Mishloach Manot packages at the table, rather than calling people aside and giving them out privately. The result was that one woman actually asked for a Mishloach Manot package, which I thought was rather chutzpadik (nervy), but made sense, since she thought I was giving one to everyone. I was actually pretty ticked off that the recipients all thought it was so wonderful that my husband and I give out Mishloach Manot packages, but couldn't take the hint when I complained that, in roughly 15 years of giving out Mishloach Manot, we've gotten very few Mishloach Manot packages in return. This year, we got exactly two packages from our sister congregants (none from the fellows). For the record, one of the reasons why I stopped attending our local synagogue on Simchat Torah was that I got tired of feeling like the in-house entertainment--when it got to the point that my husband and I were the only ones dancing, it was time to go elsewhere. I've reached a similar point with Mishloach Manot. Starting next year, the only people who'll be getting nice Mishloach Manot packages, with hamantashen (tri-cornered Purim pastries) and fresh fruit, will be the two people who've returned the kindness almost every Purim. The rest of the congregation is getting cookies and tortilla chips.


Anonymous KJ said...

Hello, I'm new to your blog, and to the Jewish blogosphere in general, and thought I would drop a comment.

I'm starting to wonder if the tradition of mishloach manot is falling by the wayside? It seems like the focus of the holiday in general seems to be on children and carnivals and other things that try to make the holiday more into a Jewish version of Halloween. The Suedah, mishloach manot - these seem to be observed by very few people nowadays.

I didn't perceive a tactical error in giving out the mishloach manot in front of everyone. Yes, it can be focused on the poor, but it can also be given to friends and family - if I understand it correctly. Or maybe that's a matter of local minhag?

Mon Mar 01, 01:42:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

KJ, welcome aboard!

"It seems like the focus of the holiday in general seems to be on children and carnivals and other things that try to make the holiday more into a Jewish version of Halloween." I hadn't thought of the Halloween connection, but I think you have a point.

And thanks for reminding that I was going to post about this. Actually, come to think of it, I already did post about the lack of Seudot Purim among Conservative Jews. I think the real issue is not that "The Suedah, mishloach manot - these seem to be observed by very few people nowadays," it's that they seem to be observed by very few *non-Orthodox* people nowadays.

Matanot LaEvyonim/Gifts for the Poor are specifically for the poor on Purim, while Mishloach Manot can be given to anyone. My tactical error was that, by giving out the Mishloach Manot at the post-minyan breakfast table, I gave people the impression that we intended to provide Mishloach Manot for everyone present, rather than for persons of our choice. Due to my own stupidity, I've now given the congregants such a sense of entitlement that some actually feel free to *ask* for a Mishloach Manot package. On the one hand, I think it's rude to ask someone for a gift just because you see that person giving a gift to someone else, but, on the other hand, it could reasonably be argued that it was rude of me to make it so obvious that we were giving to some people but not to others.

Mon Mar 01, 04:54:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

For the record, we did end up giving Mishloach Manot packages to all the people at the table, after I realized that I'd backed myself into a corner. I'd brought extra cookies and tortilla chips (and zip-lock bags in which to put them), just in case, and that's what most of the folks got.

Mon Mar 01, 05:42:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous KJ said...

Thanks for the follow up. You pointed out a very good point of distinction, that I failed to make...namely, that it's non-orthodox Jews who seem to have shifted the focus of Purim. I'm grateful you pointed out my need to be more specific in my comment.

Tue Mar 02, 12:32:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

KJ, your comment inspired a post.

Tue Mar 02, 08:53:00 PM 2010  

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