April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I love Purim as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is the owner of a new carpet), but I have to say that the worst part of Purim is the traffic. On random blocks that are not at all built for traffic. Like for some reason, all the most popular people live in cul-de-sacs. The entire Purim is just sitting in your car and watching the cars in front of you make K-turns all day. And circling the block and quadruple parking while your kid stands inside a teacher’s house or their parent’s friend’s house and waits for their turn to be noticed by whoever lives there.

It’s not ideal. Every yom tov, your entire Chol Hamoed plans are built around, “I don’t want to go where there are too many people.” But on Purim, that’s everywhere you go. Everywhere you go, there’s traffic. You can’t aim to go somewhere where there are no Yidden. Who are you delivering to? No one’s bringing mishloach manos to the non-Jews in their life.

“Thank you for not killing us.”

Everywhere you go, there’s a long line of cars waiting for someone in front of the line to talk their kid through which package in the back of the minivan is for the person whose house they’re in front of so the kid can go inside and get a picture taken that they will never ever see and then come outside and fail to find their car.

“We’re in front of the hydrant, obviously.”

And of course there are the non-Jews rubbernecking because I don’t think Purim is a holiday they’re really aware of. They totally forget about it from year to year, like we do with Ash Wednesday.

The teachers have no idea there’s anyone waiting outside. Every teacher is like, “Come in, let me walk you through my entire house, give you the grand tour, and have you stand there while I search for the tiny mishloach manos that I should definitely be able to find a lot quicker.”

And in the meantime, the teacher is trying to have a conversation with your kid through his mask.

“What are you supposed to be?”

“Mrf mrf mrf.”

“What?”

I don’t know what to tell you. Have you not seen dogs? He’s what was on sale. Can we move this along?

And then the teacher says, “You’re so cute!”

Every kid is so cute. I have yet to have a teacher say, “Meh.”

And then there’s the one rebbi that makes you and your son dance and sit down for cholent, and you’re like, “You know, my wife is out there.”

“Does she like cholent?”

“That’s not really the point.”

Meanwhile, whoever is sitting in the car is doing so in a costume that doesn’t allow for comfortable sitting while constantly having to move the car but also stay in view of the house, with a bunch of kids who are definitely eating all the mishloach manos, spilling nosh all over the back seat to give you that satisfying Pesach cleaning experience of mess-per-square-inch.

“Wow! And what are you supposed to be?”

“Queen Esther.”

“And why is Queen Esther’s face all red?”

“I had a lolly.”

You want your kids drinking cans of warm soda in stop-and-go traffic.

“Get out of the car.”

“I have to finish my soda.”

By the time you get home, it’s like, “So what mishloach manos did we come home with?”

“Nothing.”

You don’t want to think about what they’re eating back there.

“Wait. Have you been eating the outgoing mishloach manos?”

“It had better stuff.”

And throughout all this, every car on the block is blasting their Purim music and sharing it with the neighborhood like the other cultures have a custom to do every Shabbos. Everyone with different songs on the same day at the same time. Can everyone please turn down their music so we can find the houses better?

You have no idea where your kid’s friend’s house is.

“What are his parents’ names?”

“I don’t know. He said he’s in the phone book. Cohen.”

You’re sending your kids on their own into strange houses in a costume.

“Make sure there’s a mezuzah!”

Your kids have never had this much stress and responsibility in their lives.

And then every teacher lives on some obscure street with notes like “Third side door from the back, upper doorbell.” You have no idea.

“What’s your teacher’s last name, again?”

“I don’t know; Rivky. Morah Rivky.”

The teachers at least have hours that you’ll know they’ll be home. Well, hour, singular. They said, “I’m going to be home between 11:30 and 12:30.”

Great. It’s not up to me when we get up to your house. Because my other kid’s rebbi who lives across the street from you says he’s going to be home between 10 and 11. What route do you suggest we take through town?

And the one hour that your child’s teacher is home, the block is a zoo, and the rest of the day it’s a ghost town. The whole block is deserted. “Do you know where this rebbi lives?” There’s no one to ask.

And the thing is that you can’t just decide to do your deliveries early and beat the traffic. You can’t say, “I want to go before Shacharis. As soon as neitz comes, I’m going to start knocking on doors. I won’t even need a costume; it’s too early in the morning to recognize people.” Yeah, no one wants you to come before they’re ready. You’re basically making them go to you later.

“Oh, you have your costume on!”

“What? No, these are my pajamas!”

Or you can be nice, and get that pile of mishloach manos started on their front porch.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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