As a kid, the one day I looked forward to during my years in Sunday school was Purim, also known as the day that we would make delicious hamantaschen pastries in class.
Hamentaschen are triangular cookies typically filled with fruit or, in my case, chocolate chips with their edges folded toward the center to surround a triangle of either of the two fillings.
Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates Queen Esther, a young Jewish girl chosen to be the queen of Persia by King Achashverosh, saving her people from mass slaughter by the king’s chief adviser, Haman, after which hamantaschen is named.
Hamantaschen's triangular shape represents the three-cornered hat Haman wore.
David Levy shared this recipe on the Jewish Boston website, of which he is the editor. He is also the marketing director of the Shalom Hartman institute of North America and a former Sunday school teacher.
This recipe makes about three dozen pastries.
You will need:
-1 cup of oil
-1 ¼ cup of sugar
-2 teaspoons of vanilla
-3 teaspoons of baking powder
-5 ½ to 6 cups of flour
1-2 small jars of whatever filling you prefer (chocolate chips, apricot, cherry, etc)
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2) Mix eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
3) Add baking powder and flour.
4) Knead together until smooth.
5) Roll out the dough as thin as possible, about 1/8 of an inch if possible, on a board covered in flour.
6) Cut out circles using the bottom of a drinking glass.
7) Put an appropriate amount of filling in the center of each circle.
8) Fold in three sides over the filling to make a triangle while making sure the filling is showing in the center.
9) Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.
The story of Purim begins with King Achashverosh calling on his queen, Vashti, to appear before him and his guests during a feast so he could show off her beauty.
Vashti refused, so King Achashverosh had her killed for her disobedience and decided to find his new queen through a contest held among all of the eligible women in the Persian kingdom.
The woman chosen was a young Jewish girl named Esther, who was raised by her cousin Mordechai.
Mordechai advised her to not disclose her religion to anyone while meeting the king, which she agreed to.
One day while Mordechai was sitting outside near the palace gate, he overheard a plot being discussed to assassinate King Achashverosh.
Mordechai immediately reported what she’d heard to Esther, who told the king, saving his life.
Years later, King Achashverosh promoted Haman, a descendant of Amelak, the traditional enemy of the Jews, to chief adviser.
When Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman, it pushed Haman to plot the murder of not only Mordechai, but the entire Jewish population of Persia.
Haman went to King Achashverosh and convinced him to execute his plan, which Mordechai discovered and responded to by replacing his clothes with sackcloth and ashes and crying loudly while wandering the streets of Persia.
When Esther found out what Mordechai was doing, she sent a messenger to him asking for him to explain what was going on.
Mordechai relayed the plan he had overheard to annihilate all of the Jews in Persia and instructed Esther to go before King Achashverosh and ask him to save the Jews.
The day that Esther entered the king’s court, he granted her an audience and promised her that ultimately anything she asked for would be given or completed for her.
Esther requested that Mordechai and Haman attend a banquet to be held that evening, which they did, and afterward she asked that they come again the following night.
During the first night, the king realized that Mordechai had never been rewarded for saving him from being assassinated, so he asked Haman what he thought the man he wished to reward deserved.
Haman, thinking the king was talking about him, described an elaborate scene in which the honoree was dressed in royal clothing while riding a royal horse.
The king agreed and instructed Haman to carry out the plan for Mordechai.
During the second banquet, Esther revealed that she was Jewish and Haman's intent on wiping out the entire Jewish population from Persia.
Esther asked the king to “grant me my soul and my people.”
The king was furious with Haman and ordered that he be hung on the gallows that Haman had intended to kill Mordechai, and granted Mordechai an influential position and allowed him to issue announcements allowing Jews to fight their enemies.