With a fresh layer of snow on the ground, I am befuddled. The Jewish festival of Purim is just a few days away. (Starts Saturday evening, February 23) I associate this holiday more with spring than with winter. While on occasion I probably ventured out in the snow, my recollections are overshadowed by a subtle warmness that negates any frosty weather. The smell of freshly baked hamantaschen is what I remember most.
Decades ago, I sewed Purim costumes for my sons. I remember my kids being delighted that they could wander about while the Megillah (Scroll of Esther) was being read in the Congregation Beth Shalom (Northbrook, Illinois) sanctuary instead of being forced to sit still. The annoying sound of the groggers (noise makers) made it difficult to hear anything. The annual synagogue Purim carnival added to our collection of chotchkies (trinkets and miscellaneous items), stuffed animals, and an occasional goldfish. We enjoyed exchanging mishloach manot boxes (gifts of food) with some of our friends and donated others to the poor.All in all, our family thrived on the communal aspects of the festival.
Our third son, Aaron, was born around this time and his Bar Mitzvah coincided with the celebration of Purim. I’ll never forget the events leading up to his birth. My hemoglobin had dropped too low for the planned C-section. It was necessary to have a transfusion prior to the operation.Naturally, I was a bit unsettled in a time when blood transfusions were a risky affair. As a result of my trepidations, I was the first person to have a directed blood donation at Highland Park Hospital. I will forever be grateful to the countless friends, relatives, and ORT members who donated their blood.
The recovery from my C-sections was always a challenge. After Aaron’s delivery, my sense of gratitude overshadowed the limitations of his surgical birth. The umbilical cord was wrapped three times around his neck. It is doubtful that Aaron would have survived a vaginal birth. The planned C-section saved his life. Our family would not be the same without him.
My entire family would agree that one of their favorite holiday treats are the Hamantaschen that I make each year. I have fond memories of my kids standing around me while I rolled the dough. Each would contribute by adding a dab of jelly or melted chocolate. Even though I am now an empty-nester, I continue to make a batch each year. Coincidently, Aaron will be flying through Denver this weekend.
The recipe comes from the Traditions in the Kitchen cookbook (North Suburban Synagogue Beth El Sisterhood, Highland Park, Illinois, 1976). If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear your feedback.
- My children never liked either of these combination so I simply substituted strawberry preserves and melted chocolate.
- The aroma of the hamantaschen is unmistakeable. Chag Sameach. Have a joyous Purim.