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Upcoming Jewish Holidays

 
Purim 2021 will begin in the evening of Thursday, February 25
and ends in the evening of Friday, February 26
 
Due to COVID-19, the Soref JCC's annual Purim celebration is cancelled but we wish you a chag Purim sameach.
 

Purim is a fun Jewish holiday and deserves to be enthusiastically embraced.  According to the story of Purim, years ago (around 400 BCE), the Persian queen, Esther, saved all the Jews from the murderous plot of the king’s advisor, Haman. She did so by revealing her hidden Jewish identity under the guide of her cousin, Mordechai.

Today, we celebrate Esther’s bravery with lots of fun traditions, with everything from costumes to carnivals. In addition to dressing up and throwing festivals, we boo and shake noisemakers, or groggers, when Haman’s name is mentioned. Plus, we give back by donating to charities and sharing mishloach manot, or Purim gift baskets filled with snacks, to friends and family.

Of course, no Purim celebration is complete without plenty of food and drinks. The story of Purim tells us to (legally) imbibe until we cannot distinguish the evil Haman from the hero, Mordechai. And, last but certainly not least, are the hamantaschen.

Purim is pretty much synonymous with hamantaschen. These triangular shaped cookies, representing the fashionable three-cornered hat Haman was known to sport, are traditionally filled with apricot, poppy seed or prune.  You may want to consider Bonne Maman jam for your filling.

Bonne Maman, a popular French preserves company available in most grocery stories and online, has gone viral for an unverified but heartwarming story of Nazi resistance.  The “anti-Nazi jam” story, which has gone viral on Twitter in February 2021, was shared by Michael Perino, a St. John’s University law professor. Perino said he was grocery shopping in northern New Jersey on Valentine’s Day when he encountered a woman in her 80s or 90s, struggling to reach a jar of jam.  Perino, 57, helped her grab the product, and she then asked him, “Do you know why I buy this brand?”  She went on to describe how she was a Holocaust survivor and “the family that owns the company hid my family in Paris,” Perino recalled her saying. 

 

Hamantaschen Recipe

Servings: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes, plus about 50 minutes for the dough to chill

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with a knife, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, very cold
  • 3 large egg yolks, divided
  • 1-2 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 3/4 cup apricot jam

INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Combine the confectioners' sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for 10-15 seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 of the egg yolks and pulse a few times, until the mixture is crumbly and pale yellow. Add 1 tablespoon of the water and pulse just until the dough starts to clump together. If the mixture seems dry, add the remaining tablespoon of water and pulse again. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times into a smooth ball. Divide in half and pat into two 6-inch discs; wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    2. Preheat oven to 375°F and set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    3. In a small bowl, make an egg wash by mixing the remaining egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Set aside.
    4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll to 1/8-inch thick, turning and dusting with more flour as necessary so it doesn't stick. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut out 3-inch circles and place about 1/2-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Re-roll and re-cut any excess dough. Brush the dough very lightly with the egg wash. Place a level teaspoon of apricot jam on the center of each cookie (do not overfill). Fold in the sides, slightly overlapping the filling, to form a triangle so that each side of the cookie has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under -- this creates a pattern that looks pretty (but don't fuss too much over it). Pinch the corners together neatly so that they form a point. Slide the pans into the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill.
    5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the pans halfway through baking, until the cookies are lightly golden on top and just starting to brown in the corners. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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