President’s Post – March 2020

To Mask or Not to Mask?

Eric Imley & Gale Swartz, Co-Presidents

Is that the question and why are we asking it? Dressing up costumes, and masks aren’t mentioned in the Book of Esther. There is no indication that anyone ever dressed up for Purim in the Mishnah, Talmud, or in the literature of the gaonim. Nor is the practice so much as mentioned in the writings of Rashi and Maimonides in the High Middle Ages. The earliest reference to dressing up on Purim is in a 14th century poem by Provençal Jewish writer Kalonymus. Kalonymus had strong ties with Italian Jewry and evidently learned of the practice while living in Rome.

A popular Purim costume this year is of Supreme Court Justine Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But how did Justice Ginsburg get so close to the cultural zeitgeist to earn this honor? Most of us are familiar with her story. In Eric Imley’s household, daughters Lillian and Abigail started to learn about Justice Ginsburg from a great Kate McKinnon impersonation on Saturday Night Live. For Abigail (12), this was only the tip of the iceberg. The Imley family takes RBG tours through New York and New Jersey, and Abby reads books on Justice Ginsburg veraciously. Recently, Eric asked Abby whether she had read even one of the opinions Justice Ginsburg had written. While Abby could cite several and even had a favorite, she had not actually read an opinion. Neither had Eric! Together, they are now reading and discussing some of the key issues that Justice Ginsburg has written about.

Purim is also time for Hamentaschen. Gale and Eliot Swartz have been known as Hamentaschen Mavens. For a long time, Sisterhood made over 8,000 of these tasty cookies each year in around six hours at Eliot’s former bakery facility in Carson. There were close to 60 volunteers organized into two shifts making dough, rolling, filling, pinching, egging, baking, flash freezing and then packing the triangle treats in boxes under the watchful eyes of Gale as Production Supervisor and Andy Kauffman as Quality Control. The honed processes resulted in very few ‘rejects’ and even one year there were exactly two cookies out of 8,000 that were deemed unacceptable. Certainly, this is remarkable! Sisterhood still provides delicious Hamentaschen to the community made by a local professional bakery. They are only available for a very short time so please look for the order forms to get your favorite flavors before they sell out!

In addition, our tradition continues with a Purim Carnival and Purim Party complete with a PG13-rated Megillah reading and festivities geared towards both the young and the ones still young at heart on Saturday, March 7. Newly added this year is a Megillah and Martinis party (for those over 21) on Monday night March 9. Please mark your calendars and more importantly send in your RSVP’s for all of these great events!