Mishloach Manot, or, they’re really just not that into us

For the first four years of Ella’s life, we delivered many mishloach manot baskets, but did not receive a single one. We don’t live in a very observant community, and many of our friends are either not Jewish or non-practicing (or rely on me for all of their Jewish practice.) It didn’t really bother me, but I did worry that if this trend continued, it would start to bother my children.

Fortunately, once Ella started day school last year, we started to develop at least a small community of Jewishly involved friends. And the mishloach manot began to trickle in. It’s not as if we need more hamentashen. (We need them “like a hole in the head,” as my grandmother would say.) But the delivery of handmade treats at your doorstep, especially when the delivery is performed by small hands, is actually an incredibly touching gesture. We probably don’t have more or better friends than we did a few years ago, but  you know what? It feels like we do.
In this spirit, I highly recommend The Purim Surprise, a lovely, lovely Purim book about mishloach manot by Lesley Simpson (author of The Shabbat Box). It came out in 2003, but mysteriously I only read it for the first time on Friday. (i think the cover art might have turned me off – don’t make the same mistake I did….) She captures perfectly how this mitzvah, and perhaps mitzvot in general, connect us to one another.
PS – What did you put in your baskets? We made hamentashen, kettle corn, and oatmeal cookies. And no plastic wrap or baggies!

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posted February 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I liked “The Purim Surprise” a lot. We sent hamentashen. I always contemplate adding a note “warning: made with the hands of little children.” At least for now, coming from my house it is a given.
We like to give fresh fruit as well… I must admit, since we have a “no candy” rule in our house I often pass them along – regift – candy to someone else who I know allows it.
We added bubbles to some this year. It doesn’t count as a food item, but it does add to the fun!
Every year, my favorite mish. manot to give are the two or so I try to order on line for people out of town. People I don’t see often enough, and with whom I kept in better touch. It isn’t that I take my local community for granted, but the added surprise to a far away friend to let them know we are thinking of them makes me really happy.
The best mish. manot I ever got was in Jerusalem. A good friend gave out home made multi-grain rolls with an individual size serving of vegetable soup! I have never forgotten it, and hope someday to have the time, money and talent to do the same.

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Mrs. G

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm

We only managed the hamentashen but my daughter made her own paper envelopes with family portraits of the recipients penned on them. Perhaps next year we will expand our repertoire a little.

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Frume Sarah

posted March 1, 2010 at 3:33 am

Thanks for the book rec. I was bemoaning just yesterday before the pre-Megillah shluff that there is a lack of good Purim books.
In addition to the hamantaschen, we added peanuts, candy, and raisins.
Love the bubble idea…
We only received two baskets. One from a family friend and one from my parents. Wish I could get more people to realize that *THIS* is when we give food baskets…not in Kislev!

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Minnesota Mamaleh

posted March 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm

amy, thanks for the book recommendation! i always think about the reciprocity thing, too. i wonder what *they* think about it, you know? chloe did get 2 back this year and i have to say that she was thrilled beyond belief. it warmed my heart to see how happy she was! i love your kettle corn idea, we went with hamentashen and hot chocolate; i’m all about cozy as it’s still a blistery winter in mn!

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posted March 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

i love this book. i read it about 10 times this purim season :-)
we didn’t get any, really.
but we delivered about 20! and it was fun, the kids LOVE giving them and ringing doorbells and all that.
we did hamantaschen, oranges, and candy. i bought chinese food boxes at the container store and the oranges were a little bigger than i thought they’d be, so it was all a tad crowded. i’ll have to be more specific when i send my husband to costco next year :-)
i’m not usually super creative with the mishloach manot items but i always imagine that i will be. then the time comes and i throw in hamantaschen and fruit :-)

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posted March 2, 2010 at 10:39 am

I run a synagogue library and always read “The Purim Surprise” to our preschool classes. They also enjoy “A Costume for Noah.” Many of the three and four year olds are becoming a “big brother” or “big sister” and can identify with the story.
This year I put my mishloach manot into reusable containers with a lid. I also make a small donation to Mazon (to help feed the hungry) and to Hazon (to help the environment) in honor of all our friends and family at Purim.

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posted March 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

We did two – three different kinds of hamantashen, and some homemade chocolates. We’re pretty much in the same situation as you, where we receive only a single mishloach manot ourselves, but give out lots, pretty much for the same reason. It tickles me how excited my sister-in-law is to receive hamantashen; she actually followed us home and got more after eating half of what we delivered. :)
My son likes delivering them, carrying the little boxes up to the doors and ringing the doorbell, but until the actual delivery he keeps trying to convince me we should really keep them all for ourselves. Or, really, for him.

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