Monday, March 13, 2006

Gelbstein's Bakery becomes famous!

Gelbsteins bakery in Lakewood is now famous! APP: If you aren't familiar with the Jewish holiday of Purim, try to imagine Halloween, New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving all rolled into one day of feasting and fun. Purim, which begins at sundown tonight, commemorates a dramatic reversal of fortune for the Jews in Persia in the 5th century B.C.....While Purim is considered a minor holiday, it provides a major source of fun for Jews in the midst of winter's final throes. On Purim, a Jewish prohibition against masquerading takes a 24-hour holiday, and Jews young and old make the most of the dispensation. Even rabbis, during Purim synagogue services, have been known to read from the Scroll of Esther, or megilla, wearing funny hats. And when Haman's name is mentioned during the recitation of the story, congregants let loose with noisemakers called groggers, or stomp on the floor, whistle or blow horns....One of the holiday's signature delicacies is a pastry, often filled with fruit or cheese, called hamantaschen, which are triangularly shaped because Haman supposedly wore a tri-corner hat. Sarah Schneider, 15, of Ocean Township, said Gelbstein's bakery in Lakewood is famous for its "amazing" hamantaschen. "But nothing beats homemade," noted Alyssa Ezon, 14, of Ocean Township. Josh Schneider and his friends claim to each polish off dozens of hamantaschens during Purim. That's easy to do since Jewish families traditionally exchange gift baskets laden with sweets with their relatives, friends and neighbors. On Purim, said Florence Nasar, 16, of Deal, "you see a million people driving around delivering things." All that driving around can pose problems related to another long-standing Purim ritual: the liberal consumption of alcohol. An instruction in the Talmud, the Jewish library of oral law and tradition, says that a man should drink on Purim until he can no longer distinguish between the words "blessed is Mordecai" and "cursed is Haman." Today, scholars disagree on whether inebriation is really necessary. Hillel Yeshiva, a Sephardic Orthodox Jewish high school with about 220 students, officially discourages the practice, and sends pamphlets home with students reminding parents about New Jersey's drunken-driving laws and the rules against serving alcohol to minors. Students at the school said the main point of the Purim celebration is to have a joyous day. But sometimes, noted Josh Schneider, the joy can get a little too intense. "You always have a crazy (older) cousin coming around pinching your cheeks very hard," he said.
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