What’s in YOUR Mishloach Manot Basket?

mishloach-manot-photo

One custom I have always liked about Purim (aside from the drunken revelry, of course) is Mishloach Manot, those fun Jewish goodie-bags that people give to each other during this festive holiday.  It’s like Trick-Or-Treating in reverse:  the candy, wine, cookies, etc come to you -no need to go banging on any strangers’ doors.

Surfing Google, I came across a myriad of articles about what one should include in their Mishloach Manot baskets, including a rather heated discussion over “themed Mishloach Manot” on Hashkafah.com.  All these ideas got me thinking like a cunning marketer, and it occurred to me that there is an untapped market for “niche” Mishloach Manot.

So here are a few categories of potential Mishloach Manot ideas targeted to the interests of specific populations to help get this venture started.  (NOTE:  all items included result from intensive focus groups with members of each target audience.)

Feel free to use some of the items listed in your own Mishloach Manot baskets, and add your own suggestions in the comments!

1.  Altercockers (or “Geriatrics”)

One word:  prunes.

2.  College Students

Ramen Noodles (Gefen and Tradition sells kosher, Oriental Style versions)

Red Bull and/or Starbucks Frappuccino bottles

Organic cannabis

Prune-flavored condoms (to make them remember to call their grandparents — see previous category)

3.  Environmentalists

Compact fluorescent bulbs (someone actually posed the idea of “marzipan candy in the shape of compact fluorescent bulbs” in the Hashkafah.com forum linked above).

Worms for their compost bins

Sustainably-made Hamentaschen or other treats (see this post)

4. Israelis

Hummus-filled Hamentaschen

Noisemakers…err, then again, they probably are loud enough without them

5.  Non-Jews

Matzah (just tell them “Purim” is another word for “Passover”)

Might as well throw a Menorah in there, as well

A few plastic Easter eggs to show Jews can be supportive of their holidays, too

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15 Responses to “What’s in YOUR Mishloach Manot Basket?”

  1. Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz Says:

    Ah, Preston. I love that you did focus group research! Thank for sharing. One of my girlfriends just got worms for her worm bin last night – maybe the more appropriate treat for her would be some of my food waste?

  2. Al Hunter Says:

    I think you’re being too mean to Non-Jews! That’s a nasty basket to give anyone, even when trying to be funny.

  3. Preston Says:

    Al, I am surprised you weren’t more offended at the “prunes for Altercockers.” I know many non-Jews (including some in my own family), and am pretty sure they would find it more humorous than offensive.

  4. Al Hunter Says:

    I like prunes, but what am I going to do with plastic easter eggs?

  5. Pippi Kessler Says:

    Dear Preston,

    I thought the idea of marketing “niche” mishloach manot was really funny and I thought it was a fun idea to write about planning gifts that play off people’s personalities.

    I want to take issue, though, with the basket you suggested for non-Jews. I’m the moderator for the Mothers Circle listserve, a group for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children. The women on the list have put serious muscle into learning about Judaism – many are even more knowledgeable than their Jewish partners.

    The stereotype about non-Jews that you mentioned – that they don’t know the difference between Jewish holidays – was clearly meant to be a goofy joke, but it comes at a time in our community when it resonates with some serious themes. As I know firsthand from moderating this list, it’s often assumed that intermarried Jewish families don’t understand Judaism. Even when it’s meant as a joke, a comment about being an outsider to Jewish life can pack serious sting for someone going out of their way to support a community that isn’t supportive in return.

    Each of us can think of someone we know who would find it hilarious and someone who it would sting, but this is about where our community is at in our history. We no longer live in a segregated society, and “Non-Jews” are no longer “Not Our Kind” – they’re our parents, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, and the future of Jewish continuity. Now is not the time to make “Us vs. Them” jokes, it’s the time to be welcoming.

    Before reading your post, I recommended that the women on my listserve visit JCarrot.org. I hope, for their sake, that they don’t read your post and find yet another dig that despite their devotion to Jewish life, they’re still assumed to be outsiders.

    I’d be happy to talk more about this with you if you’d like – I know your joke wasn’t meant to open up this can of worms, but I’m looking out for my Moms!

    Pippi Kessler
    National Coordinator of the Mothers Circle
    Jewish Outreach Institute
    pkessler@JOI.org

  6. Preston Neal Says:

    Pippi,

    Thank you very much for commenting and sharing your perspective from your work with Mothers Circle. I will respond here since this is where you started the discussion.

    I definitely hear what you are saying, and fully agree that the Jewish community at large does quite poorly when it comes to inviting non-Jews to learn about Judaism.

    I myself am the child of an interfaith marriage, and was always grateful that my Reform synagogue growing up was so welcoming to my non-Jewish father, even though he had no intention of converting.

    I sincerely apologize if the comment about non-Jews was offensive to your Moms or other non-Jews. I can see how it could be read either as something tongue-and-cheek, or as offensive. Perhaps, though, you may see where I am coming from differently, given my own personal connection to the non-Jewish community.

    I am very glad to know that the Mothers Circle listserv exists and serves what I believe is a generally overlooked need, given the non-segregated society that you mentioned. Thanks for sharing.

    Preston

  7. Preston Neal Says:

    Al, as I recall from my Easter Egg hunts as a young boy, the plastic eggs generally had goodies inside of them – kind of like a miniature Mishlaoch Manot basket :)

  8. suzette Says:

    With the current economic climate,it’s time to create Mishloach Manot that help others. This year, I’ve purchased reusable shopping bags from my shul, Girl Scout Cookies, and wine that benefited a fund that helps people in my community who are in need. Put them together, and it’s a tzedaka theme that benefits others.

  9. Shmethicist Says:

    Pippi, I read the whole post to my not Jewish sig other, and he and I both laughed the whole way through. The jokes at the expense of Jews are right there along with the jokes at the expense of non-Jews (are all Jewish college students stoners? Of course not. Once I fled Lawn Guyland for the Promised Land of university life, where I found peers who were interested in something besides what was on sale at the mall, I didn’t need any more drugs to numb the pain).

    Derisive humor is more of a year-round staple of our people than matzah, hamantaschen, or even that great blessing sour cream. If the women in your group see the post, they’ll probably recognize that.

  10. an observant jew Says:

    Hi Pippi,
    In your reply on http://jcarrot.org/whats-in-yo.....not-basket, you wrote: “Each of us can think of someone we know who would find it hilarious and someone who it would sting, but this is about where our community is at in our history. We no longer live in a segregated society, and “Non-Jews” are no longer “Not Our Kind” – they’re our parents, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, and the future of Jewish continuity. Now is not the time to make “Us vs. Them” jokes, it’s the time to be welcoming”

    I would like to appologize in advance to any Jew, non-Jew or non-Jew raisisng jewish children (and the like) if the following is offensive…but as you ingest it, please try to place yourself in our shoes, and reflelct on “our” history (of endless persuctuion) before drawing your own conclusion…I truly believe that if you do so, you too will undertsand).

    I have never replied to any blog or forum in my life, but upon reading your posting, I was taken aback, distraught and struck by a sentiment of fear…I fully agree that when it comes to Jews and non Jews, We (the jews) should endeavor to make a kiddush H-shem, and treat them with dignity, for we are not here to pass judgement: we should never create an antipathy of “US vs Them” (although without generalizing, for many of “them”, this is a sentiment they mutually share, and thus the foundation for the history of (escalated)Anti-Semitism). However, as an orthodox Jew, to hear another Jew (and one who represents Jewish outreach) be so “OKAY”, and at ease with the frightening truth that in many communities, they are becoming as you state “the future of Jewish continuity”; To recognize that this may be becoming the reality is one thing (and should create a feeling of GREAT loss and sadness- making many of this generations grandparents and great grandparents turn in their graves)….but to encourage and boast it as a time to “ be welcoming” is in many ways a “Silent Holocaust” H’V.

    Baruch H-shem for the “orthodox” for whom many reform and conservative strive to bash at every opportunity….for were it not for them, there soon would no longer be an issue of “us vs them…because THE “US” would BE NO MORE….and we would be what many of them throughout history tried so feverishly to realize “ANNIHILATED”!!! (does this strike any fear???)

    P.S: back to the point of that forum in the first place- Purim “mishloach manot”…it too does not need to follow the “trends”, but rather fulfill the true MITZVAH of giving at least 2 ready to eat food items, which have a different “bracha” for each(such as crackers(mezonot) and cheese(shehakol); wine borei peri hagefen) and fruit(usuallu haetz, some ha”adama)…to at least 2 different people…and the greater mitzvah is to give money to the needy- just enough to purchase a small meal).
    No one says it shouldn’t be fun, or you cant have a theme, but remember not to lose track of its real purpose (as commanded through OUR history).

    I beleieve there is a purpose for everything in life…and so i did not “stumble” upon this website and this discussion for nothing!!

  11. Hannah Lee Says:

    In class, my Rabbi pointed out that 60 years after the Holocaust, the population of European Jewry is about 12 million, still 3 million short of the census total of Jews who lived there before World War II. So, despite the fertility amongst the Orthodox, we have not re-couped (demographically wise, that is) the number of Jewish souls destroyed and their progeny that would never see the light of day.

  12. an observant jew Says:

    Hi Hannah,
    Thank you
    That is correct, without(me)doing precise research on these numbers, your Rabbi is accurate- UNfortunately we have not “re-couped” in numbers….this is why I can’t believe those Jews of today who are so welcoming to accept and even be responsible (by letting happen) this “Silent” version. Could you imagine what the numbers would be like today, were it not for the orthodox!! (I mean asides from their rock solid faith and unbreakable cling to tradition and observance of Torah laws and Values…they have always reproduced at an unbelievable rate(they are humans, not machines).
    If you are interested, there is are 2 excellent books related to the “controversy” of this topic(both NOT written by orthodox Jews, I believe one even by non-jews, which makes it even more remarkable).
    1. “Why the Jews” the reason for Anti Semitism, by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin..quoted
    “HATRED OF THE JEW has been humanity’s greatest hatred”
    2.”Vanishing American Jew” by Alan M. Dershowitz (who himself is a notable figure Jewish(Identity) matters, and a professor at Harvard Law school).

  13. Carman Langan Says:

    Wonderful Post. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to wrtie this I have been looking into this topic all over the web and yours was the most on-point!

  14. Ileen Fudala Says:

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