by Rachel Loonin

Come Purim time, my fun-loving family gets pretty into it. It’s definitely a holiday tailor made for us. As it is, during the year, we are known to wear glitter and feathers in a relatively passable manner to synogogue, so Purim is a good fit. One of the things we love doing as part of the mitzvot for the holiday is giving mishloach manot, gifts of food packages.

Clown imagery is a big part of the holiday and I am so happy my 3 year old came home from preschool singing the classic Israeli song “laytzan katan nachmad” about the Purim clown jester. It reminds me of my dear mentor Arlene Cohen of blessed memory who herself taught me this song when I was a student teacher in early childhood. I didn’t grow up with it, but she likely did and taught it not just to me but all the 4 year old Manhtattanites in her class at the time. I even went to her apartment that Purim many years ago and recalled seeing her colorful bags of mishloach manot ready for distribution on her dining room table. They were classically elegant with all kinds of colorful curling ribbon spilling out.

This year I am in Israel just before Purim so I Amazoned some bags ahead of time. We are fulfilling the minimum requirements of putting in at least two types of ready to eat foods, which would require two different brachot. We plan to also give to at least two different people on Purim day itself. But I wanted to bring something back from Israel with me. Lo and behold I found one of the Many pop up stores in Tel Aviv selling all kinds of candy. And right there were Parve foil wrapped chocolate clowns. Of course I have been thinking about Arlene., as none of my other chlldren had learned this clown song in early childhood. How appropriate as we continue to get more festive and j see how excited this country gets . We are increasing our joy this week and seeing the children in Israel dress up every day.

This year we aren’t able to host a festive meal but we will go to friends in West Philly. I hope some of our Israeli laytzanim will make it. My children are expecting chocolate eggs with toys inside but I hope they will find this addition to our mishloach manot aka shalach manos to be super fun.

Rachel Loonin and her family live in Philadelphia.Rachel frequently blogs for Kveller and other publications.