Two large baskets of mishloach manot with various foods. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

By Daryl Perry
For Mitzpeh

To celebrate Purim this year, Kedma, this university’s Orthodox Jewish group, sold mishloach manot (traditional gifts of food) to students. Parents also bought Purim-themed gift bags from Kedma for their children to add to this year’s festivities.

“A lot of our holidays, unfortunately, are focused on times in history when Jews were persecuted and had a hard time,” said Kedma president Jacquelyn Leffel, a junior human development major, who also works as Mitzpeh’s social media editor. “And this is a story of when everything got flipped around, and the plot of the evil guy in the story was completely foiled and all the Jews were saved.”

Mishloach manot are gifts that typically contain food or drinks that are associated with different blessings.

“Some of the blessings are foods that grow on trees or foods that grow in the ground, or pastries,” Leffel said. “A lot of people include potato chips or potatoes, and there’s a blessing for foods in the ground … go-to of course, hamantaschen, are pastries and they’re incorporated into that blessing.”

Compared to last year, this year’s sales of Kedma mishloach manot has increased, which Leffel thinks may be due to COVID-19.

“People had a lot less comfort going out to buy things and a lot more time to give to going and celebrating with their friends,” she said. “With more time on their hands they were able to go [deliver them] to more than one apartment, more than one house, there’s no in-person classes they had to work around.”

But because of the ongoing pandemic, many students from this university delivered mishloach manot to people in a different way than most years. Juniors Avery Penn and Maya Greenbaum both bought some from Kedma, and Greenbaum made more of her own.

Penn, a mechanical engineering major, said he would have given more mishloach manot, but did not have the time or resources to do that this year. 

In the past, Penn said, he might have gone inside people’s apartments and hung out with them while delivering mishloach manot. This year, he put the mishloach manot outside of their doors and knocked, leaving a note.

Greenbaum, a kinesiology major, said she tried to deliver her mishloach manot at an outdoor, socially-distanced Megillah, or Book of Esther, reading she attended. While students typically congregate following the reading, because students had to disperse this year, Greenbaum went to different friends’ apartments and handed the food to them when they came outside.

“I like to give,” she said. “It was fun to just give them the mishloach manot.”

Although delivering mishloach manot this year was very different than usual for these students, Purim’s core message still rang true for many.

“It’s about appreciating the good and laughing about how things can get changed so suddenly when they seem like they might be so bad, and change for the better,” Leffel said.


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