JWR Schticks and groans

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 24, 2005 / 13 Adar II, 5765

Baywatch Babe Baskets and Eminem's evil Israeli twin

By Andrea Simantov

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Purim in Jerusalem is a time for creativity

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For the last three months, the sixteen-year-old son had been sporting a knitted ski hat, his long black lashes barely visible beneath the woolly edge. Everything about him had, lately, appeared shadowed and secretive, and I constantly worried about disenfranchisement, potential drug-use, criminal involvements which lay far-beyond my area of mommy-expertise.

At a height of 6'3", his clothes had become baggier and the attitude more sullen. The appearance of two eclectic piercings did little to assuage a general sense that I was losing my son. Having been a former, devoted subscriber to Parents Magazine and current Oprah.Com groupie, it behooved me to ask whether or not I even knew my son!

On the other hand, he was staying at home more and more, doing well in his studies, actually assisting his younger sister with her term paper, and once took out the garbage after only six requests. He plays Scrabble with me when the Sabbath weather is inclement and still knows which fork to use for gefilte fish. But the woolly head covering was really getting to me. Unable to bear the suspense any longer, I finally blurted out, "O.K. What's with the hat?"

"What hat?" he queried back, sounding a little like Eminem's evil Israeli twin.

"That bad-looking rapper-rag which is covering your lush and blessedly-inherited head curls, that's which hat."

"This hat?" he responded. I have to give it to him. He can really keep a conversation pumping.

"I'm growing my hair for Purim. All the guys in school are. We're doing dread-locks and bleaching them blond. I told you about it."

Admittedly, my memory isn't what it used to be. And yet I still maintain that the data regarding a former yeshiva bochur's plan to costume himself as a Vanilla Bob Marley would have, somehow, remained in "storage." The vision of him walking into shul (synagogue) wearing this get-up would have held a unique place in my internal trauma closet.

Purim is a big, BIG deal around here. Everyone wears costumes, even the bank tellers and bus drivers. When the kids asked me that evening over a gourmet supper of Corn Flakes and canned beans what I planned on being this year, I resisted the urge to mutter, "A Baywatch Babe." Not that I couldn't pull it off, mind you. It's just that in my fervently-Orthodox neighborhood, no one — including us — owns a television, and all of that creativity would be wasted.

Feeling pressured by the looming holiday, it was time to give some serious thought to the preparation of Mishloach Manos (Purim gift baskets). Every year the competition was growing steeper and steeper — NOT by the amounts of money spent but by the unbridled creativity of some of the other neighbor gals. Whatever happened to the standard "two-hamentaschen/six jelly-beans/mini-bottle-of-grape juice/three walnuts and a rotten apple" Mishloach Manos? Suddenly everyone's an artiste, a cross between Wilhelm Puck and Martha Stewart, and I'm breaking my head to outdo The Frummie Next Door!

I crawled into our friendly (what else?) crawlspace and hauled out the cobwebbed carton marked "PURIM." Slicing through the yellowed cellophane tape, I grew instantly nostalgic upon seeing the multi-colored Easter grass that had hardened in the airless box. Other memory-stirring items included four wooden graggers (Purim noisemakers) with which to drown out the name of our archenemy Haman, six Books of Esther from which we recount the tale, an aquamarine Afro-wig and a Ronald Reagan mask. But what could I use at this late moment as containers for my artery-clogging culinary masterpieces?

Eureka! With a sudden burst of brain-clearing euphoria, I recalled a Purim four years earlier when I thought myself the Neapolitan Julia Child. That year I had designed Mishloach Manos using an Italian theme, packing each red colander "basket" with a box of authentic linguini, small jar of homemade spaghetti sauce, ribbon-wrapped bread sticks, and mini-bottle of Chianti. Each of the eighty packages was enfolded with a red-and-white checked dishtowel. Tres clever, no?

Yes. Quite. Except for the fact that I was living in a new neighborhood and didn't know anyone upon whom I could bestow these gifts other than an elderly neighbor who had once loaned me an onion. Another thirteen accompanied my six children to school as they curried favor from various sourpuss teachers and secular bus drivers.

Four days after the holiday, the dining room table still groaned under the weight of the remaining sixty-seven Purim packages. With less than four weeks until Passover, I was the stunned possessor of sixty-seven boxes of definitely not-kosher-for-Passover pasta and sixty-seven ribbon-wrapped packets of breadsticks. The only positive aspect to the story is that none of my highly allergic children suffer from wheat intolerance . . .

Four years later with the lesson of over-planning still fresh in my mind, I still have many indestructible red plastic colanders available for the packing. Of course, I no longer have sixty-seven. Some were included in indescribably clever wedding-shower gifts; some disappeared mysteriously as I moved from house to house, perhaps stolen by a not-too-discriminating thief. But there are about eleven remaining. How can I be so certain? Because every time I open up my dairy-pot cabinet, all of them fall out of the warped top shelf and hit me on the head.

Every time.

I still haven't made up my mind as to this year's theme, but I'm getting closer. A "sushi" basket is over-the-top, and I'm not certain I can handle the complications of keeping raw fish cool under a baking Israeli sun. Anything "French" is tricky around here, and I don't want to encourage any wrathful responses to my well-intentioned gift. Deli and appetizing are a little over-budget and, in any case, are becoming passť.

I may, indeed, do a "Baywatch Babe Basket" and let the cultural chips fall where they may. What will I put in this basket? One Slim-Fast snack bar, half of a sand-sprinkled egg salad sandwich, a small tube of zinc oxide for the sun kissed nose, and a warm can of Fresca. Some of them I'll pack in Beach Ball decorated shopping bags.

And the others?

I was thinking about using red plastic colanders.

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JewishWorldReview.com contributor Andrea Simantov is a Jerusalem-based columnist and single mother of six. Comments by clicking here.

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© 2005, Andrea Simantov. This column first appeared in Orange County Jewish Life