by Anna Gottlieb
I was charmed, touched, surprised, gladdened by the spectacle unfolding in the streets. There were queens and kings and clowns and gypsies, hobos and princes, bakers and brides. There were boys and girls and men and women, balloons and music and candy and fruit. And good cheer, high spirits, laughter, broad smiles. In kitchens and living rooms, on front stoops and backyard patios - everywhere in the clear cool air there were sounds of celebration.
And we were a part of it. I was a part of it. Delivering mishloach manot [gifts of food traditionally given on Purim] on a sunlit afternoon.
"What a wonderful idea," I'd said when first my son and daughter had informed me of this custom to present a gift of fruit and sweets.
"On Purim, Ma, Jewish children are supposed to dress in funny clothes and give out packages of candy and stuff to at least two friends," my daughter had explained. "And people might bring their mishloach manot to our door. But that is not what counts. What matters is the giving. That's the mitzva," she had said. And I'd been touched by her words and proud of the ease with which she and her brother seemed to comprehend, to accept, to fit into this Jewish way of life.
In the days preceding Purim, both my daughter and son discussed the Megila [story of Purim] with me. They were thrilled when we accepted an invitation to attend a Purim seuda [meal] at a teacher's home. They made hamantashen with their maternal grandparents. They prepared for a carnival in school. They helped to wrap the packages of mishloach manot. And they included me. They encouraged me. They taught me. They enabled me to understand the concept of Purim.
And thus I was charmed, touched, surprised and gladdened by the aspect of Purim overflowing in the streets and struck by the fact that I was a participant in this spectacle of joy.
From the book, Between the Lines, by Anna Gottleib, published by Bristol, Rhein and Englander.