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Mar 6 2012

An Immigrant Purim Spiel

By at 1:00 pm

R2D2 from Star WarsMy first Purim, I was 7 years old and newly arrived in the United States from the Soviet Union. I still barely spoke English, and was the only Russian-speaker in the  second grade of my San Francisco Jewish Day School. (There was one more boy who spoke Russian, but he was in the fourth grade and, well, way too cool to speak to me.)

Somehow, I managed to understand that costumes would be required. And somehow I had also convinced myself that the kind of homemade costume my mother wanted to send me in–the kind that she’d made back in Odessa: Little Red Riding Hood, the Snow Queen, Ethnic Ukrainian with a garland of flowers in my hair–simply would not do. Read the rest of this entry →

Purim Recipes: It’s Not Just Hamantaschen

By at 10:14 am

When you think about Purim and food, the only thing that really comes to mind is hamantaschen. Now don’t get me wrong–I love hamantaschen. They are totally delicious, fun to make with kids, and you can fill them with almost anything (my husband likes to put a few chocolate chips and a few peanut butter chips in each cookie. Scrumptious). Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 5 2012

Awesome Purim Crafts

By at 9:53 am

Purim is one of those Jewish holidays that lends itself so easily to crafting. From making mishloach manot (goody bags) to groggers (noisemakers) to costumes, there’s just so much to do. We’ve collected some of our favorite crafts for you to check out below–enjoy, and get crackin!

Here at Kveller, we have an environmentally-friendly grogger (repurposed from your recycle bin) as well as some great Purim cards, no-sew costumes, and mishloach manot ideas. And did we mention our adorable miniature Purim dolls from Meredith Jacobs?

We also really love this grogger from Creative Jewish Mom. She uses cups, some electrical tape, and other fun stuff to turn something simple into something festive. And that Purim grogger can easily be a music-making maraca during the rest of the year!

The Upper West Side Mom has a great way to reuse those clementine crates we’ve all been collecting throughout the winter. She turns them into a mishloach manot container! Now, you definitely have to fill this with a LOT of snacks, but for a good friend, it’s a perfect Purim gift.

And in case creating a recycled mishloach manot container wasn’t enough for you, Joanna Brichetto at Bible Belt Balabusta takes it even a step further–by creating an edible container out of pretzel dough! Fun to make and delicious too.

What other crafts are out there? What did we miss? Share them below!

Mar 1 2012

Why I Won’t Get Wasted on Purim

By at 9:39 am

Getting drunk on purimPurim is just around the corner, so I’m already wondering where I put our blue wigs after last year’s celebration. Yes, I said blue wigs. They have been our family’s signature Purim accessory since well before our girls were born, back when Josh and I would put on some of my old bridesmaid dresses, adorn ourselves with makeup and bling, and wander around our synagogue’s Purim celebration saying, “I’m Estha!” and “No, I’m Estha, you bitch!” in our best Brooklyn accents. We weren’t drunk, but we might as well have been. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 29 2012

Pop Quiz: Purim

By at 11:46 am

If you haven’t noticed, Purim is coming! There will be cookies and costumes and graggers and maybe even a little booze, but do you know the reasoning behind this holiday craziness?

See how much you know about the story of Purim and the ways we celebrate it today with our brand spanking new Purim quiz. Challenge your friends, and let us know how you do! And remember, Purim begins on the evening of March 7th, next Wednesday.

Take the Purim quiz now!

Feb 28 2012

Purim Is Upon Us

By at 12:48 pm
Purim 2012 is here

Purim starts next Wednesday night, read up!

Purim–the holiday known to some as the day you drink too much and shake a gragger and to others as the day you celebrate the rescue of the Jews of Persia from annihilation–arrives next Wednesday night.

It is a favorite for many families since it involves cookies, costumes, and a pretty awesome story. For those of you who would like to brush up on the basics of the holiday, check out our Purim page. And we’ve put together a refresher on the ole Purim story. (Do you remember Vashti, Esther, Mordechai, and Haman?)

And for those of you trying to figure out what costumes to make, Mayim Bialik has a few frugal ideas (and there’s a bonus photo of her from the ’80s dressed in a kimono). You can really dress as anything for Purim, but if you want to go with a holiday-themed outfit, check out all our Purim costume ideas.

Feb 27 2012

Purim Book Contest

By at 10:06 am

This book can be yours if you win!

The holiday of Purim is coming up soon, so it’s contest time. Why? The word purim means lots, and comes from the fact that the evil Haman drew lots to pick the date on which he would kill all the Jews. Yuck. But we’re taking the idea of drawing lots and making it positive–we’re going to draw lots to choose three winners who will each get a copy of the newest Purim book off the Kar-Ben press, Barnyard Purim, by Kelly Terwilliger.

Barnyard Purim tells the story of crazy farm animals who decide to put on a Purim shpiel (a play telling the story of Purim). A few misunderstandings and zaniness ensues, with lots of fun along the way.

And THREE lucky winners will win a copy! To enter the contest, just leave us a note below saying hello.

Enter by Wednesday, February 29 at 5 pm. Good luck!

Feb 24 2012

Purim’s Coming: What Are You Gonna Wear?

By at 10:23 am

boy in dog costumeDid you know that Purim is already almost upon us? It starts on the evening of Wednesday, March 7, which means you’ve got just under two weeks to prepare. How does one prepare for Purim, you ask?

Besides baking (or buying) hamantaschen and stocking up on liquor (because you are supposed to get drunk), the best way to get you and the kids into the Purim spirit is to prepare some costumes. You could go with a classic like Queen Esther or King Ahasueros, or go with your own thing. It’s Purim, anything goes! Check out these tips from Mayim Bialik on how to make your own Purim costume on the cheap, and then let us know:

What are your costume ideas for this Purim?

If you’ve got pictures from last year or a sneak peak of this year’s costume, send them to and we’ll be sure to share with the Kveller community. Also be on the lookout for our 2nd annual Purim Costume Contest, all the more reason to take this whole costume thing very seriously!

Apr 8 2011

The Purim Contest Winners!

By at 11:42 am

After Purim, we had a great idea. Why not have a costume contest? We’d have parents submit photos of their kids in adorable Purim costumes and then we’d choose a winner and post the photo on the blog and send them a prize. Sounds perfect, right?

Well, you try narrowing down what felt like a gazillion cute babies into just one. I mean, really, what were we thinking? How do you decide whether the dinosaur, ladybug, or sock monkey is cutest? THEY’RE ALL CUTE, PEOPLE. We have some adorable baby Kvellers out there and we’re not afraid to say it.

So we finally narrowed it down to our top three, after much deliberation. These kids are so cute they’re practically edible (and since one of them is dressed as a hamantaschen, she kind of is!) Thank you to everyone for participating, and we can’t wait to see what the kids look like next Purim!

And the winners are…

Michal Frumkin, 7 1/2 months old, from Germantown, Maryland

Elijah Rediger, age 2, from Bexley, Ohio

Noah Baumgarten (it was his 1st birthday on Purim!) from Kettering, Ohio

Mar 22 2011

My Kid is Scared of Puppets, Purim, And Other Miscellaneous Things

By at 11:16 am

Puppets can be pretty scary.

I am the mom with the scared child at puppet shows. Fred is 2 ½ and sweet as can be: cautious, gentle, mellow, loving, and confident. He is simply terrified of certain things. And I’m not talking about an age-appropriate fear of strangers. I am talking about a rather unusual and acute sensitivity to anyone or anything wearing a mask, anyone or anything with crazy hair including but not exclusive to clowns (in books and in real life), and even wheelchairs, for reasons I cannot explain.

I am aware that you feel bad for me as I stand and rock my terrified crying 30-plus pound bundle of sweetness outside of puppet shows, restaurants that have TVs blaring scary commercials, and even children’s clothing stores that try and keep me in their store by showing colorful cartoons. Little do they know that they actually lose my business when Fred is around!

I am also aware that you are sighing inside, thinking, thank God that’s not my kid. I know some of you think I have raised sheltered children who “can’t” function in the “real world.” The fact that they are not–I don’t know what, I’ve heard it all–not resilient enough, not brave enough, not acclimated enough to TV. Well, I guess I just try and do my best with what I have been handed, and I was handed two sons who are very sensitive, very wise, and very afraid of a lot of stuff for the first several years.

At a neighborhood synagogue’s Purim puppet show this past weekend, I realized that I was the only mom who selects seat choice at these kinds of things based on my anticipated need to exit with a trembling, shaking child. So I sat with Fred on the side of the auditorium while my 5 ½ year old sat with my husband and my parents in the front row, excited and beaming (he, too, was terrified of puppets at his little brother’s age; don’t let his bravado fool you).

When the first puppet popped up, all crazy hair and bright nose, I knew we were in for trouble. Fred’s brow furrowed and he sunk into my lap just enough for me to take notice. Since he is not yet verbal, I tried to read his facial cues and I whispered “Are you ok?” which is our code for “Are you scared?” He nodded no, so I stood up and we walked outside. After a few minutes, I told him we could try again and he nodded yes. We walked back in and he seemed less trepidatious. Great, I thought: this could work yet. Enter a second puppet with a penchant for screaming excitedly, and Fred’s lower lip turned harshly downward, his chin trembled, he turned bright red and he then starting howling. We rushed out of the auditorium and I promised him “All done” and I signed it too. He signed it back.

Maybe it is my fault. Our kids don’t watch TV, so they have no reference for incongruously bizarre-looking puppets with mops of hair and purple felt skin with huge orange noses. Fred likes cars and trains and dolls and his little toy kitchen, but in his world, things pretty much look like what they are. I worry that people think I am the instigator of his “problem:” that maybe I need him to need me, so I constantly warn him that this is going to be scary, or that I have a running dialogue with him about how scary it might be and what to do if it is and how it’s okay to be scared, etc. Well, I can guarantee you, that’s not the kind of mama I am; I truly let things play out and I decide what to do based on his reactions.

My older son warmed up to everything in his own time and now enjoys so much about the world. So for the time being, we avoid discos, we know which pages of which books have clowns on them, and when the invitations for marionette shows and one man circus shows come into my inbox, I simply reply no thank you for me and Fred, and I send my older son with my husband. One day, Fred’s cautiousness will lift just as his brother’s did. And that will be a day that marks the end of Fred’s fears. I know my job as his mama is to celebrate those changes, and I will on the outside. But as he runs away from me to inspect a puppet close-up, I will cry the tears that only mamas cry: the tears of giving your child wings so that they can fly.

Want more Mayim? Read about why her kids don’t watch TV, how she gave birth at home, and why she pumps on the set of Big Bang Theory.


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