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I&A.com: The Ears of March
April 4, 2005 by Howard Blas

This Jewish year, with its two Adars, affords aficionados of hamentaschen (Haman’s pocket, in Yiddish; in Hebrew, the goodies are called oznei Haman, or Haman’s ears) an extra month to contemplate and seek out the perfect three-cornered pastry.

Before we get to the main course, you may wonder why there’s an Adar Bet. For an explanation of why seven out of every 19 Jewish years are leap years, and for overviews of the Jewish (as well as the Chinese, Islamic, Indian, Mayan, etc. lunar calendars), go to the Calendars Through the Ages site at http://webexhibits.org And while you’re at it, a quick refresher on the story of Purim, costumes, noisemakers, greeting cards and crafts is available at http://www.holidays.net

At http://www.purim.com I found that in the United States, I could order one metal gragger, or noisemaker, for $1.25 and 144 for $61.25. And 2.5 pounds of hamentaschen for $20. In addition to being a place to shop if you run a Jewish institution, or have a very large family, the site has a link to the informative http://www.myjewishlearning.com site.

The kabbalists, as one might expect, put a lot of significance into the fact that Adar is a “pregnant” month, carrying as it does the leap year month of Adar Bet. At http://www.inner.org we are told that every Hebrew month has associated with it a zodiac sign, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, one of the 12 Tribes of Israel and a body part corresponding to it. In Adar’s case, these are, respectively, Pisces, kuf, Naftali, and the spleen, which it says is the source of black humor.

Another site, http://www.bible-history.com offers additional tidbits, including the fact that the period is known as “the one-eyed” by the Arabs, because of the variations in the weather. That’s very similar, of course, to March, which is known to enter and leave as a lion and a lamb.

Another discovery: Adar, and the months around it, Shvat and Nisan, have varying numbers of days in leap and non-leap years. Check out http://www.ou.org to learn how to make the calculation, without the help of a calendar.

Now for the recipes. One of the simplest appears at http://www.torahbytes.org which also offers recipes for such Jewish and Israeli staples as kneidlach and gefilte fish. The http://www.jewish.com site is also good for the basics, including the preparation of fruit and nut filling, and another from poppy seeds.

But your hamentaschen must have the proper shape. Easy-to-follow advice on folding them can be found at http://scheinerman.net

Finally, check out the Great Hamentasch/Latke Debate, held every year by professors on several U.S. campuses. Read about one such debate at http://www-tech.mit.edu And, for an ecumenical Purim, check out the view of Rev. Kerry Mueller of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, Maryland, who devotes a sermon to the topic, http://www.uucss.org That’s the whole megillah.

Howard Blas
Filed under: Jerusalem Report (Source: http://www.jrep.com)