Shalach Over-The-Moon’os: A Jerusalem Purim post mortem

For full disclosure, I may be a bit green with envy as no one sent me a “Mishloach manos exclusive gorgeous arrangement designed with chic and style by PRESENT on Eli Hakohein (sic) Street”. Nor did I receive a luxurious package created by SHOHAM of Yirmiyahu Steet from any dear friends who saw “no need to wreck (sic) their brain!” As for a “Purim spectacular from 13th Avenue” of Yechezkel Street”, nope. Ditto for any of the drop-dead offerings from WineCigar on Kanfei Nesharim, The Chocolate Box, Debbie Adler Dream Cakes, Fresh n’ fruity, or Cookies — all located north of Jaffa Road in the haredi heartland.

What these purveyors of spectacular mishloach manot all have in common is that they advertised this orgy of over the top Purim ‘mitzvahs’ in a slick little weekly publication called New Link. This magazine purports to distribute “over 18,000 colored (sic) copies weekly in Arzei Habira, Bucharinm, Ezras Torah, Ganei Geulah, Gush 80, Har Nof, Kiriat Belz, Kiryat Sanz, Maalot Dafna, Minchas Yitzchak, Neve Tzvi, Panim Meiros, Ramat Eshkol, Romema, Sanhedria Sanhedria Murchevet, Shaarei Chesed, Sorotzkin, & Torah Mitzion.”

All of these neighborhoods have two things in common; 1. They are virtually 100% haredi, and 2. They have the highest concentrations of supposedly impoverished people in Jerusalem – assuming poverty is measured by how much one takes from the government, how little one pays in municipal taxes, and what percentage of able-bodied males are terminally (if only officially) unemployed,

Now if you have ask “how much?” you obviously cannot afford any of those beautiful mishloach manos offerings, especially if your having dozens of them delivered. Nor are you likely to be able to afford “Your new Pesach fashion selection” from Chic on Sorotzkin; ”The Beautiful SPRING collection” at Euro Collection on Tzfania; the “Magical spin on children’s fashion” at Carousel on Yosef Ziv; “The spectacular collection” for children at Little Princess on Shamgar; “Imported children’s fashions from Little Boutique” on Doresh Tov; or personal “Swiss Makeup Artist” Rifki Stein. Because, after all, one cannot just show her face before putting it on.

So what gives here?

When I was a child in the very Boro Park from which Jerusalem luxury purveyor 13th Avenue takes its name, Jewish women labored mightily to bake a few cakes which would yield delicious, very personal mishloach manot for a handful of close friends and neighbors. But, then, in those days preparing for Pesach also meant a bit more effort than shopping for and packing fourteen pairs of shoes before heading to an all-inclusive resort.

Yes, today everything is easy. Pick up the phone, place an order and charge it to your credit card while your precious husband is busy slaving away over a gemara at the Mir. No worries. Back in Brooklyn or the Five Towns or Golders Green either your “tatti” or his will grit his teeth and foot the bill.

Jerusalem of Gold is blessed with a surfeit of perma-tourists and others with no visible source of income who bring their free-spending lifestyles to our beleaguered city, shamelessly living to excess in front of native neighbors some of whom are actually poor. The husbands parade about is $350 Habig fedoras from Austria (Borsalino is too déclassé for these fellows), while chunky gold cufflinks and Italian brocade neckties decorate their custom-tailored monogrammed shirts. Neither they nor their decked out brides – pushing brilliantly clad and luxury-strollered toddlers – seem even remotely aware of their surroundings or, indeed, why they are supposedly here in “Eretz Yisroel” in the first place.

However, the advertisement in News Link that really took the cake was from a company called Maid of Honor 613 which urged the dear reader – while sipping her cappucino on Keren Kayemet Street – to “join the myriads of women, who are elevating the standard in their homes!” and to “Preserve the kedusha of your home” by forcing their maids to wear modest “hotel-style look” uniforms that “fit comfortably over clothing”. In order to make things really effortless, these Maid of Honor uniforms are “available in all tznius centers worldwide and now in Yerusholayim”.

Is it just me now suffering from severe indigestion without having touched even a morsel of “SHALACH OVER THE MOON’OS? Is shoving your hired slave into a uniform truly the pinnacle of “tznius” and the ultimate guarantor of “kedusha of ones home”? Anyone? Anyone?

 

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.
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