May 23, 2024
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Purim Paks Continues to Help Jews Across the World Enjoy Purim Together

(Courtesy of Purim Paks) With Purim approaching, those of us with friends and family living in Israel appreciate the modern communications that let us celebrate “together.” But just a few decades ago, Purim was a lonely experience for Americans living in Israel, until a new business got off the ground in 1985.

In a third floor walk-up in Jerusalem, Esti Rosenberg, a young kollel wife, was tossing around ideas for bringing in some income. She recalled how her mother had baked pineapple hamentashen and cinnamon cake, packed them in boxes, and mailed them to relatives all across America before Purim. Perhaps the young couple could build on that idea? Offer Americans a way to deliver mishloach manot to their friends and relatives in Israel? Nobody had tried it before. Would anyone bite? It was worth a try.

It is amusing to recall the shenanigans of getting things done in those pre-internet days. In Israel, the young couple shopped for packaged snacks with the most widely accepted Badatz hashgacha, packed up baskets and waited for orders to arrive. Meanwhile, in cities across America all the siblings and cousins and aunts were “volunteered” to hang flyers with tear-off phone numbers in shuls, groceries and pizza shops. Customers were asked to mail their orders to the grandparents, Yale and Zvia Gibber in Monsey, together with an index card which would be included in the basket. One side of the card had the address of the recipient, while on the other side, the family would record their Purim wishes. Amusingly, some of those 3×5 index cards actually consisted of a “long megillah” of a letter, carefully crafted to fit into exactly 3×5 inches.

How could all of those orders be transmitted to the couple in Jerusalem? The Gibbers would search for someone traveling to Israel who could carry the cards in their luggage. But first, to ensure against loss, they would visit the public library to photocopy both sides of each and every card. (None ever did get lost along the way) Once the cards arrived in Jerusalem, they were added to the baskets of goodies that had been packed, and hundreds of mishloach manot were successfully delivered to the amazed recipients, delighted at being able to share Purim with their family in this way.

As a small family business, family and business matters are often intertwined. One time, Esti packed the last basket, listened to the megillah reading and went straight to the hospital. All of the Purim Paks, and her newborn son, were successfully delivered that Purim! The two young daughters who watched the packing of baskets from their high chairs that first year became ardent packers and graphic artists in later years, and the boys who followed would take turns going out on deliveries with their Abba.

Though the internet revolution has changed much in the intervening 33 years, and a variety of mishloach manot companies have followed their lead, Purim Paks continues to deliver a variety of value-packed, strictly kosher Purim baskets to students, family and friends in Israel. They have a website for orders: purimpaks.com, an email address: [email protected], and a DSL line to America: 954-239-2170. It is no longer necessary to send index cards! Surprise your friends and family in Israel with a package of goodies this Purim, courtesy of Purim Paks.

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