At first I thought I was going to begin this article by telling all of you that I have taken a vow of silence and was going to become a Buddhist Monkess (is that the female version of a monk? I have no idea). Though the celebration around the fact that I was no longer going to speak might have been great, I was going for the whole Purim-issue joke thing, but then I decided to write this little scenario. If after reading it you decide I should’ve stuck with the whole vow of silence thing, then….
The holiday of Purim is upon us. We celebrate narrowly escaping another evil decree. We get to make loud noises upon hearing the name of Haman (I happen to favor my duck-whistle from the duck boat tour we took in Boston; always gets a laugh or a dirty look, your choice). A woman is the brave heroine. I am convinced that Esther probably didn’t eat all that much anyway, so a fast day for her wasn’t a stretch.
But in true spirit of being Jewish, our houses end up being filled with so much candy, that fasting the day before really doesn’t make much of a difference when we get on the scale. And then there is the seudah. I am betting that Esther just had some lemon with water and called it a day. Even after saving the Jewish people, even after being a symbol for centuries to come, having a piece of cake just wasn’t worth it to her. Now there is some good will power; why didn’t I inherit that quality from her and not just her outspoken ways?
Purim also has some special significance in our home. Husband #1 was born on this magnificent holiday (sort of ironic that it is the holiday that encourages getting really, really inebriated...but I digress). He weighed a whopping almost 11 pounds and his family lived in the fabled village of Grand Rapids, Michigan; the tale is that he almost killed his mother (and that they couldn’t get a minyan for a bris, both equally horrifying; 11 pounds…ouch). But for his bar mitzvah, he learned to read the megillah. Some men can change the oil in their cars; some men can install light fixtures and fix toilets. My husband can read a 13-minute megillah. I exaggerate, it might have been 13 ½ minutes. Twenty years ago, my brother was in the hospital after having emergency surgery and we had a Purim minyan where husband #1 (at the time he was only fiancé #1) accomplished this speedy reading. There were witnesses. He even got a look of approval from my mom…a true Purim miracle.
He is the Santa Claus of Purim. He will read the megillah for the young, the old, the infirm, the tired, and the poor. He will read it as many times as needed so that every Jew can hear it. He is the Uber of megillah readings, just text him and he will be there. This is his specialty and he loves doing it. Several years ago we had our friends over for lunch; it was Shabbos and Purim. The husband is also our doctor (yes it’s awkward, no I’m not going into it). After the meal was over husband #1 was doubled over in pain. He was not happy. At first, I was laughing at him because that is what mean, horrible wives do, but then I realized something was amiss. I ran down the block and told our friend/doctor/yes he is also our neighbor, sort of, that something was wrong. We got husband #1 to the hospital and they diagnosed it as a kidney stone. Yada yada yada, when we got home he read the megillah for our friend/doctor/sort-of neighbor. That man is one committed megillah reader!
When our boys were young, we would have a mom/annoying child megillah reading at our house. The neighbors would pile in and husband #1 would read amidst the screaming, yelling, and nose picking; and then he would go to work and leave me to clean up the mess (some things never change). So on this Purim, the 45th anniversary of his birth, I would like to wish the father of my children a very happy and healthy birthday. May you continue to read the megillah quickly and with no mistakes and bring joy to all those that hear your melodic voice. This column is your card, and my previously mentioned vow of silence is your gift.
Banji Ganchrow is a self-proclaimed writer who has never met a hamantasch she didn’t like—unless it was filled with poppy seeds.
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow