Purim Seuda Recipes


I love Purim and everything about it. I love the groggers and the shalach manos and the coming together of the community. And I love letting the people you love know you love them. I love that tzedeka is a big part of the day, and I love that we won over the evil Haman! I love the unlikely heroes, Mordechai and Esther, because of their devotion to the Jewish people, and I love how good triumphed over evil. I love getting dressed up, I love sewing my kids costumes, and I love making the food. I love reconnecting with people I haven’t seen since last Purim. I love hamentaschen, and I love theme parties.

And all of this love culminates in a very fun Purim seuda! This year, I’ve decided to do an easy and delicious meal with a Mexican theme. The food lends itself to buffet style – everyone can make their own tacos! – or if they are low-carb, they can make “naked” tacos (all of the fillings and none of the tortilla)!

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One Word... Plastics


Plastic bags are everywhere, it seems. We shop at Target, buy a few items, and the purchases are put in a plastic shopping bag. Buy a pillow at Bed Bath and Beyond and it comes in a big plastic bag. Pick up some juice at 7-11? Plop, it is placed in a plastic bag. At the grocery store, doing the weekly shopping, we easily end up with 20 plastic bags. Sometimes, the items are double bagged. The salmon fillets we got at the fish counter was first put in a plastic bag and then into another bag at checkout. Does the Sun or another paper get delivered to your home? It comes nicely protected in a plastic bag. More recently, just to be safe, the newspaper is wrapped in two plastic bags. Oh yes, we even purchase plastic bags to protect frozen baked goods, store leftovers in the frig, or to throw our garbage into.

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Help! I’m Making a Simcha

center piece

Simchas are many things to many people. While some families love the informality of a backyard barbeque, others are happiest with an over-the-top bash at the biggest hall in town. We all speak a different “simcha language.” What we all have in common is the excitement and joy – and also the stress. Making a simcha, especially for the first time, can be overwhelming. So many issues must be investigated and decided upon: What style of music do we want? How many courses should we serve? Who should the photographer be? And, of course, how much money is this all going to cost!?

When we attend simchas as guests, we don’t necessarily notice or care about the details – until we are the ones making the decisions and spending the money! The first time I noticed centerpieces at a wedding was when I had to choose centerpieces for my own child’s wedding. Agonizing over the choices for weeks, the first thing I looked at when I attended simchas during that time was the middle of the tables!

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Keeping Purim Joyous and Safe


Purim is my favorite holiday. I love hearing the Megillah, with its deep and meaningful lesson that the real King is directing events in the background and nothing happens by chance. Even on the simple level, it’s quite an exciting story! I’m fond of Purim’s unique mitzvos and festive get-togethers. And I marvel at the creative costumes and mishloach manos that people come up with. Or maybe I love Purim simply because I like to laugh (who doesn’t?) and make others laugh too. And there’s a lot of shared laughter come Adar 14.

But there is one aspect of how the holiday has come to be “celebrated” by many that puts a damper on my joy – and not only mine, I’m sure. That is the excessive drinking and drunkenness that many have come to believe is not only permitted but obligatory on Purim. What I am referring to is not the halachically-prescribed drinking leshem Shamayim but the out-of-hand boisterousness that leads to chillul Hashem.

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How to Make Pesach While You Sleep; A Book Review

pesach while you sleep

I first heard about Julie Hauser’s innovative way of making Pesach when she wrote an article about it for Mishpacha magazine a couple of years ago. Without a Pesach kitchen, Julie set about figuring out a way to make Pesach cooking happen without the stress.

Her solution? She sets up a little work space near her utility room with several Crock-Pots and a cabinet full of supplies, including disposable pans, containers, dry goods, and of course garbage bags. Then she plans her mains, soups, and sides, fills her slow cookers, and lets them do the work for her. Each night a different dish cooks its way to perfection while she sleeps, and all she has to do in the morning is transfer the finished food to a container, cool it, and stick it into the freezer, ready to be enjoyed two or three weeks later. By the time she’s ready to turn over her kitchen, Julie’s got a freezer stocked with fully-cooked meals, and the pressure is (mostly) off.

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Hide and Seek: Revealing the Nistar in Finding the Perfect Purim Costume

potato head

While each Yom Tov comes with its own host of customs, foods, and festivities, Purim affords people of all ages the opportunity to unleash their creativity. From planning the best mishloach manos to plotting the best shtick, getting ready for Purim is a whirlwind of non-stop activity. But with all the excitement comes a bit of stress: how to decide on a costume, where to get it, and how to tie it into the chag. I decided to ask people from the community who are champion costumers for their wisdom and input. 

The Bulka family invests time every year in coming up with a theme that ties together their mishloach manos and their costumes. They started with having everyone just wear matching outfits. Their first “themed” Purim was Winnie the Pooh: their two-year-old son was Pooh, their newborn daughter was Piglet, and Dad was Tigger. Now, according to Mrs. Haviva Bulka, “we make or buy costumes or go to the costume gemach. We include a picture in our shalach manos package of our family dressed up, so that whoever we miss during our delivery can see us.”

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Purim is almost upon us, and with it comes so many wonderful ways of celebrating, with food a central focus of the many mitzvos of the day. All day, beautiful mishloach manos packages filled with food, some healthy and some not so healthy, are delivered from house to house. Often the highlight of the day is the huge Purim seuda, that festive meal complete with many courses. And the day itself is so busy, whether going to the megillah twice during the holiday, delivering mishloach manos, delivering tzedakah, or cooking for the seuda, that it’s very easy to go into a “mindless” mode, eating all day long without even realizing what, when, or how much is being consumed.

Mindfulness is a powerful way to bring balance into every aspect of how we eat. It cultivates both inner wisdom — awareness of how our body and mind are reacting — and outer wisdom — making wiser use of nutritional information to satisfy our needs and preferences.


I Don’t Want to Have to Hide My Yichus

table for two

Yichus. Lineage. You’re either born with it or you’re not.

In the upper echelons of frum society, yichus means a lot. It means good yeshivos. It means a good shidduch. It means good connections. It means respect, honor, admiration, and possibly inborn holiness – for being a descendant of illustrious Torah scholars or leaders. Like it’s in your blood.

Then there are those who have “no yichus.” They come from a line of simple Jews, butchers and store owners and seamstresses. But their ancestors more or less were observant, keeping the chain intact whether it was in the shtetl or in the Goldeneh Medinah. For them, too, their lineage is indeed worthy of the title “yichus.”

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Discussing Personal Safety with Our Children


Founder and Director of Knafayim

Baruch Hashem, in recent years the topic of keeping our children safe from abuse is a topic that has become increasingly acceptable to talk about. Certainly we all wish it were a topic we didn’t have to talk about. But the reality is that presently this is a problem our community must deal with. And while organizations continue to spring up to address it, how can you, the parent, family member, and community member, contribute to the solution? How can you keep your own children safe from abuse?

In this article I’d like to share with you some tips and strategies you can implement at home to give your children a strong foundation for maintaining their own bodily privacy and safety.

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A Friend Recalls


My family knew Chaiya Drabkin as Amy, since we met 27 years ago when our son Noah wanted to learn to play the violin. She took him on and engaged his interest until he grew taller than she was, not a very hard accomplishment when your teacher is less than five feet tall!

Chaiya (Ami) Drabkin’s small size was deceptive. She was a powerhouse, some have said a force of nature. A talented musician, she taught piano, guitar, and violin to children and adults from her home, all while raising six children. She was also fluent in Spanish. Her music instruction was the first opportunity I had to see the passion she brought to everything she did. Always smiling and soft spoken, she prodded her students with stickers, hugs, and biannual community concerts. My husband, Bruce, and Joel Drabkin wore pink cummerbunds at one outdoor concert as Amy had them pass out drinks to attendees. Amy wanted everyone to enjoy the excitement of music as much as she did.

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