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Did you know that Purim is the original Jewish gift-giving holiday? It’s traditional to give gifts of food to family, friends, and neighbors on Purim. Called mishloach manot, they usually include hamantaschen, the traditional three-sided pastry eaten on Purim, plus other simple foods like fruits or nuts. They are often put in a bag, basket, or folded paper plate and delivered in person. These gifts may also be referred to by their Yiddish name, shalachmanos.

Donating to lessen food insecurity. On a holiday during which we celebrate with treats, and perhaps alcohol, it is important to consider the many people in our community who struggle to afford the food they need. In fact, Purim is the only Jewish holiday that includes the mitzvah of giving as one of its core principles. Referred to as matanot le'evyonim, the tradition is to donate funds or food to organizations working to lessen hunger, such as the Alameda County Food Bank, the Berkeley Food Pantry, or Feed the Hood.

Both of these traditions come from the end of the Purim story, in the Book of Esther, which says, “The same days on which Jews enjoyed relief from their foes...which had been transformed for them from one of grief to joy and from mourning to festival, they were to observe them as days of feasting and merry-making, and as an occasion for sending portions to one another (mishloach manot) and giving gifts to the poor (matanot le’evyonim).” 


Though this article and the video below about how to make mishloach manot are designed for families with children, the information is just as relevant for adults.

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