“And therefore the Jews make the 14th of the month of Adar: a day of gladness and feasting, a holiday, and a day of sending choice portions to one another.” (Esther 9:19)
This “sending of choice portions” is called mishloach manot in Hebrew. In many congregations, people arrive at the megillah reading on the night of Purim, loaded down with little baggies filled with hamentaschen, nuts, candies etc. People walk around with the bags, giving and receiving these small presents. Though this is a joyous and wonderful part of Purim, the people at Minyan Dorshei Derekh, a Reconstructionist affiliate in Philadelphia, PA found that managing all these baggies, both on the giving and the receiving end, was cumbersome. They also noted that people had not been so good at fulfilling another Purim mitzvah, matanot l’evyonim, giving to those in need.
So they came up with a solution. They would make the mishloach manot gifts as a communal enterprise. Each person coming to services would receive one of the these gifts. They would ask from people in the community to donate funds, time, and stuff to the creation of these Purim baskets. After expenses, the funds would be giving to Tzedakah (righteous giving). Their first year, they donated $1,500 to various groups that serve the needy.
What follows below is a letter from Betsy Teutsch, one of the chief organizers of the project, announcing the plans for the mishloach manot project as organized in 2002 for the Dorshei Derekh Minyan at the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia, PA.
PURIM IS COMING!!!! Purim is coming!!!! Purim is coming!!!!
Purim is coming soon. This year Dorshei Derekh will repeat our Mishloach Manot collective, giving out fabulous baskets (well, boxes, actually…) to each household who attends our Megillah reading. Many of you were participants last year, but since we have many new members of our community, here is a review of how this works:
Each household is invited to send a check payable to Minyan Dorshei Derekh. This money will be pooled and used to pay for the contents of the mishloach manot. Anything left over after we pay the bills goes to Tsedakah (righteous giving). Last year we were able to keep costs down, provide creative and delicious treats, and still contribute over 85%, more than $1500 of our total to Philabundance, the Rabbis’ Maot Chitim Fund, and Mazon! So please give generously, knowing that the bulk of your contribution will not be spent on stuff, but will go to feed hungry people. We are looking for contributions in the $18 – $50 range, but anything is welcome. Each basket will include a card with a list of all the contributors.
If you are a baker who would like to contribute baked goods, please contact M S, our chief baker. It will add to the flavor of our baskets, and keep our costs down, allowing more to go to Tsedakah. Also if you have access to, or have sitting around your house, things we could pass along, that makes this more fun. The baskets don’t have to be all the same. Children’s books, stickers, novelties, art supplies, and educational materials, as well as food stuffs like candy, teas, snacks etc would all be welcome. Please coordinate this with Betsy Teutsch. Anything that we can get for free lowers our costs. So use this as an opportunity to recycle your surplus! Also, last year we used clementine boxes, not available this year, alas. If you shop at Weaver’s Way, please save mango and grape tomato boxes and bring them to the Maslow.
This project grew out of the Jewish Voluntary Simplicity Group that met last year through Dorshei Derekh. We were appalled at how much waste there has been on Purim – so much packaging, so much food thrown out. This project minimizes the waste and maximizes the mitzvah!
Betsy Teutsch, [the members of the organizing committee] (and anyone else accidentally left off the list!)
Please return this with your check in the enclosed envelope by 2/14, to insure your name goes on the list…………………………………………………
Please list how your name/s should appear:
I am available for baking or providing baked goods:
I have the following tschotschkes/materials/novelties to contribute: