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The Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins this year on the evening of March 23, celebrates  the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in the biblical Book of Esther.  Purim typically involves reading from the Megillah, dressing up in festive costumes , eating hamantashen and giving gifts  of food and drink to others (Shalach Manot).  With a little creativity, you can make this holiday more eco-friendly.  Below are some suggestions:

  • Do a clothing/costume exchange with friends: Instead of buying a new costume for the holiday, gather with friends (both adults and children) and do a swap of costumes. Reusing and recycling a costume previously used is key.
  • Make your Shalach Manot gift more environmentally friendly:  There are several ways you can do this.  First, put your food items in a reusable package, such as a reusable cloth bag or a Mason jar.  Second, find organic and local food items to put in your bag.  Finally, minimize packaging.  Items such as apples, pears and other fresh fruits don’t need to be placed in separate bags. Reduce waste as much as possible.
  • Consider focusing on the needy on this holiday:  Giving money and gifts to the poor is an integral part of celebrating Purim.  Consider delivering your  Shalach Manot gift bags to residents of an area nursing home this year.  In addition, donate any unopened food or gifts you don’t need or can’t use after the holiday ends to a local food pantry (such as the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry), rather than throwing anything out.
  • Cook with organic and healthy ingredients for your own Purim festivities:  If you are making hamantashen, look for organic jams and jellies for your filling.  If you are inviting others over for a meal to celebrate the holiday, focus on foods that are local and healthy for your Purim table.  Look for winter farmers markets to buy your ingredients.

Chag Sameach!

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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