By Jacqueline Hyman
A group of 12 girls gathered Tuesday night for MEOR’s annual “Shake and Bake,” ready to create all different kinds of hamantaschen during this pre-Purim women-only event.
MEOR Assistant Director Devora Jaye created the event five years ago in the hopes of hosting a more unique experience.
“I wanted to do something that was a little more fun than just hamantaschen baking,” said Jaye, “although that’s what we’re doing tonight.”
The event normally includes a Zumba dancing lesson, but this year all three instructors fell through at the last minute. Jaye joked that the event was just a “Bake” rather than a “Shake and Bake.” Regardless, attendees laughed and bonded while rolling dough and pinching the cookies into their triangular forms.
“I was coming more for the hamantaschens,” said freshman early childhood education major Mia Kaufman. “I wasn’t really in the mood to shake, I was more just in the mood to bake.”
Jaye coached participants through the process, starting with making the dough from scratch to “over pinching” the corners of the cookies. She walked around, giving tips like rolling sprinkles into the dough for a more festive feel. MEOR provided a plethora of fillings, such as kosher marshmallows, white and milk chocolate chips, sprinkles, chocolate spread, and various fruit preserves. The triangular cookies are named for Purim villain Haman’s three-cornered hat. They are eaten as part of the celebration of the defeat of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jewish people.
Working busily on the pastries, the attendees blasted Israeli music from their phones, giving themselves the chance to sing and dance a little even with the absence of Zumba.
“I was a little bummed that there was not the ‘shake’ part of it, but it was still really fun,” said freshman government and politics major Erica Weiss. “I really like baking, and that’s something that I do miss a lot while being at college, so I thought it was a really fun way to destress and get to bond with people.”
While the hamantaschen were baking, MEOR Director of Women’s Programming Mariel Goldstein talked to the girls about the takeaways of the Purim story. She talked about simcha, or happiness, and Esther’s importance as a Jewish woman.
“It’s a really incredible thing, the sacrifice that she made to put herself on the line for the Jewish people,” said Goldstein.
Goldstein encouraged attendees to focus on their connection to each other as Jewish women rather than being divided by other labels.
“I think a lot of times people look at Judaism and they don’t see how empowered women can be, and so I do a lot of events that are all girls because I feel like that can help just make girls feel like we are important in Judaism,” said Jaye about the women-only restriction. “I don’t just do baking events.”
Weiss said she enjoyed the more formal part of the event.
“I thought it was really informative, and it really showed how important women’s empowerment is,” Weiss said. “I really now do believe that Esther was the true hero of the Purim story.”
Around 9 p.m. the smell of the first batch started to waft out of the kitchen, and by 9:45 p.m. girls were stacking plates full of their homemade goodies to take with them.
“They’re pretty scrumptious,” said Kaufman, who used several different fillings; sprinkles, apricot, chocolate and berry.
As people hurried out the door, Jaye said goodbye the same way she greeted them — with friendly words and hugs, looking forward to this weekend’s Purim festivities.