March 2019

Mazel & Mishagoss


By Stephanie Lewis

My brother recently became engaged to a woman who plans to convert to Judaism before their wedding. Our family voted me as the one to educate her about the Purim holiday so she’d feel more comfortable and familiar with our synagogue’s approaching carnival and parade. I took this task quite seriously and emailed her a list of terms, including a brief synopsis of the festival, even suggesting costume ideas so she’d feel more at home with our particular set of customs and traditions.

The problem? I dictated it using my voice recognition app and never had the time to proofread what I sent. The first clue that some words had been grossly misconstrued was her showing up dressed as a cute bunny rabbit wearing a crown, accessorized with a basket full of green cellophane grass, decorated eggs, and yellow marshmallow chicks. As I raised my eyebrows questioningly, she announced proudly… “Look! I’m the Queen of Easter.”

Oh no! Immediately I clarified that females dress up as Queen Esther and men usually dress up as the other Purim hero . . .

“Mortify, ” she interrupted. “And please don’t rub it in. I’m already feeling totally Mortified as it is.” I wisely chose to let the Mordechai mix-up go, but secretly wished she would hush up for the rest of the afternoon because my brother was already giving me dirty looks regarding my messed-up teaching abilities.

I needn’t have worried so much because immediately she began booing Haman very enthusiastically along with the rest of us every time his name was called out. So far, so good! But then she had to go and ruin everything by loudly inquiring, “When do we boo the evil Bacon and Shrimp-an and all the other non-kosher foods? Or is it only Ham-an we hate?” I tried to subtly shush her by casting my sternest look, but she only replied “Amen” for the umpteenth time that day and mercifully fell silent. However, her quiet demeanor only lasted for a fleeting moment because she was eager to show off what (she thought) she knew in front of our entire family.

And that’s why it came as no surprise to me when the ushers passed around a pushka box, (and told everyone to give what they could for Tzedakah) that my sister-in-law made a big display donating ten dollars while sweetly explaining, “Amen! So that’s five bucks for Tze Doctah, and also five more for Tze Dentist.” My brother gently ignored that weird faux pas and instead complimented her doing a “mitzvah” — to which she briefly hesitated, but then confidently stated, “Oh yum! I hoped we’d get to eat those oversized square crackers today!”

Could this day get any worse? At least for now she seemed to be behaving more normally, except when it was time to read the Megillah and she broke into an “I Love Lucy” comedy routine. I realized she must’ve thought it had something to do with Lucy’s maiden name mentioned often on the show and similarly pronounced “McGillicuddy.”

Vowing never again to use voice recognition when sending important correspondence, I grabbed the printed email out of her hands to see what else could possibly have been typed incorrectly. And it was then I realized why she’d been throwing out a random “Amen” every so often, even when no prayer or blessing had been chanted. It made perfect sense that “Hamantaschen” had been transcribed into “Amen Tossing.” Of course!

When at last it was time to depart, I yanked her away from the synagogue before she could do any more embarrassing damage — I shuddered to hear how she might mispronounce “Mishloach Manot.”

“Well, did you enjoy your first Purim?” I prodded my sister-in-law before hugging her goodbye. Please only answer with a simple Yes or No!

“Oh yes! I even want to incorporate it into our wedding vows.” My brother looked more confused than ever at his fiancé’s statement. So she continued, “For better or for worse, for richer or for Purim!”

Amen! And Happy Purim, my dear readers.

Stephanie D. Lewis writes comedy for The Huffington Post and pens a humor blog


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