By: Elliot Heller  | 

Preparations for Purim include Chesed, Laughter

Students turned up in droves this past purim to help spread the purim joy to those less fortunate. iGive coordinated their annual “Simcha Deliveries on Purim,” a mishloach manot preparation and delivery event. Two nights before Purim, approximately 30 student volunteered to assemble food packages and make decorative cards for senior citizens. On Purim day, about 100 student volunteers delivered the packages were delivered to local nursing homes and hospital following a special megilla reading and breakfast. Music Vs., TheEruv, Tzedek Society and Zmanim Club co-sponsored the event.  

“I went to the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a beautiful nursing home on the Hudson River just a 15 minute drive from the Heights,” said Rachel Lelonek (SCW ’18). “It was such a meaningful experience that really enriched my Purim. We were able to brighten so many residents' days and bring holiday cheer to not just the patients, but ourselves as well.”

Eitan Blumstein (YC ‘19) agreed. “I had great time. I had a lot of fun being mesameach [making happy] others, who don’t always have something to be happy about. Seeing the smiles on the residents’ faces – it’s what Purim is all about. I am glad to have participated in such a great event.”

"It is absolutely incredible how many students from Yeshiva University are truly devoted to enhancing the Purim of others,” said the heads of iGive, Shira Aharon (SCW ’17) and Shayna Rabin (SCW ’17). “Students traveled near and far while carrying heavy packages and wearing their costumes, and succeeded in making a great impression on all the people they met!”

Other groups chose to spread the pre-purim/post-midterms joy by treating their fellow students to a revival of an ancient debate. Kol Hamevaser hosted the "annual, first in two years" Latke vs. Hamentaschen Debate in Rubin Shul with the ambitious goal of determining once and for all (for this year) which traditional holiday treat is superior. While the discussion likely goes back millennia, it was first formally debated in the University of Chicago in 1946. Merav Gold (SCW ’16), Chaim Metzger (YC ’16), and Joshua Skootsky (YC ’17) presented for Team Latke in the epic battle, while Becca Epstein (YC ’17), Josh Nagel (YC ’16), and Elisheva Rabinovich (SCW ’16) represented Team Hamantaschen. Both foods were served.

Reuven Herzog (YC ’19) and Elana Perlow (SCW ’17) organized the event, which was moderated by Danny Shlian (YC ’17).

Epstein focused her presentation on the issues of food equality and social justice. She likened latkes to oil-guzzling corporations, who “steal oil from those who really need it – like French fries.” She also argued for the acceptance of fruit-filled hamantaschen, noting that “taste is blind,” and urging the public to “Free the Poppy Seed.” She added that if one must eat latkes, they should be well done (Feel the Bern).

Judge Bronstein praised her for her noble focus on inclusion, but said that accepting fruit-filled hamantaschen was going too far. He gave her an 8 for being too open-minded. Judge Sandman also praised the presentation, but gave an 8 as well, asking "taste may be blind, but is texture?"

Representing "all of the defunct sports teams at YU," Metzger took a unique approach, giving a dramatic reading of select passages from the Book of Maccabees and Josephus, and replacing the words "Greek" and "Hellenist" with "Hamantaschen." “There was such an extreme of Hamantaschen…that the priests were no longer intent upon their service at the altar." His main talking points included not abandoning Hamantaschen, the fact that Hamantaschen are chametz, a t-shirt is an oversized napkin I wish I didn't have to use, and other absurd arguments.

He received a 9 from Bronstein for being "intellectual, intelligent and historical." Sandman dished out a 5, calling his logic "hard to follow."

Rabinovitch began by sharing that had she decided what to talk about on the shuttle ride uptown. She settled on an “empirical evidence”-based approach. Triangles are used in architecture, she noted. Specifically, that “they measure size of circles by putting a triangle inside it and guessing the rest.” Latkes, she warned, were dangerous for “kids, old people, and people with acne.” She also pointed out that a square or rectangle is two triangles coming together, while a circle is "always just a circle" and “represents isolation.”

Bronstein: "Speaking as an English major, you lost me at basic shapes...It sure sounded smart. I also don't like war or old people. 9." Sandman said, “I liked the dvar torah. 8.”

Representing the “fine arts,”­­ Skootsky began by reciting the aramaic "akdamut" from Shavuot, as well as a yotzer for shabbat zachor. He then recited a rap/poem, based on the broadway show Hamilton, about the greatness of the latke, yelling the word "Latke!" at the end of each stanza. He noted that his food "won't cause indigestion" and "isn't named after a villain."

Despite admitting that he "just couldn't relate," Bronstein gave Skootsky an 11. Sandman followed suit with a 9.

Skootsky later provided further explanation. "It was a parody of songs from the broadway show Hamilton, which tells the story of political revolution with the language of hip hop. It told the story of how the Maccabees sailed to America to obtain the potatoes necessary to defeat the Syrian-Greeks."

That brought the score to a 46-46 tie, which, as the official rules stipulated, was followed by a three-minute rebuttal by each side.

In their rebuttal, Team Latke quoted the power rangers theme song: "'a circle is round it has no end/that's how long I want to be your friend' - they weren't talking about triangles."

Team Hamantaschen seemed to misunderstand the rules (the hamantaschen were not tested for drugs) and attempted to use their rebuttal to "rebut" the judges. The risky move did not pay off. "I should probably award you points for chutzpah," quipped Sandman. "But I won't." Team Latke was declared the winner.

Despite calling hamantaschen a "crumpled stale crummy pastry," Skootsky said that he does eat them on occasion. No word from Team Hamantaschen on if they plan on boycotting Chanukah this year.

The event promised to "reveal the truth" and "give solace to the tastebuds that have been perplexed for millenia." Did it succeed? "I believe that the debate answered many questions," said Shlian. "But it raised even more, giving our attendees much food for thought."