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Ricki Segal


By Ricki Segal



Purim is a Jewish holiday that falls before Passover. To celebrate this holiday, we eat triangle-shaped cookies filled with prunes or poppy seed to
remind us of the evil man Haman, who was the adviser to King Ahasuerus of Persia. The shape of the cookie is the shape of the hat that Haman wore.
He tried to convince the king of Persia to kill all the Jews. Once again, we were rescued by the beautiful Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai.
When we retell the story of Purim, we use gragers (noisemakers) to drown out the name Haman. ‘The Land of Sweet’ is my fictional parallel story of
this rescue of the Jewish people.

Far, far away, there was a mystical and magical land of snow. The land was full of good things to eat. Instead of wood, the houses were made of delicious chocolate with doors that were scrumptious warm gingerbread cookies and doorknobs of soft bright maraschino cherries. The roofs of the houses were different-coloured marshmallows. When you were hungry, you could stick your hand in any part of the house and eat it as it was all so delicious. In this wonderful land, children played all day long. They had bright white skates with sharp blades, and they would skate and skate until the evening meal. Sometimes they would make big funny snowmen with painted noses and bright funny smiles.

Their mommies were at home making big chocolate cakes for dinner. Their grannies would make strawberry shortcake with mountains of whipped cream and bright sprinkles of huge red delicious strawberries. Instead of money in this magical land, everyone used jelly beans. They could trade one big juicy black jelly bean for five or six green ones.

Everyone was happy and cheerful in this wonderful land, except for one person. His name was Mortimer Sour and he hated sweets. It was rumoured that he once tried to eat a chocolate but because he was so mean, the chocolate turned to stone and Mortimer Sour had to quickly spit it out of his mouth.

Mortimer Sour was a very powerful man and a very good friend to the king's uncle. The king was only nine years old. His name was King Simon. He loved the world of chocolate, jelly beans and gum drops. His mean uncle Jonathan, who was his adviser, ruled the king and the kingdom. The king was powerless against his uncle and Mortimer Sour.

Together, just to be naughty, Mortimer Sour and mean Jonathan decided that they would make a rule of “No more sweets.” All chocolates, marshmallows, jelly beans, creamy chocolate cakes and strawberry shortcakes were strictly forbidden. All the houses were to be torn down and built with wood and cement.
Marshmallows were to be replaced by tile, and jelly beans were to be replaced by nickels and dimes.

Mothers would have to serve carrot sticks and apples instead of delicious creamy smooth chocolate cakes. Grannies could no longer make cakes with gobs of whipped cream sprinkled with giant red strawberries. One day when everyone was sadly rebuilding their houses, Princess Esther, a cousin of the king, came to visit from another land. She noticed all the children were very sad and she asked the king why this was so.

He said, “No one can have any chocolates, marshmallows, or any strawberry shortcakes or jelly beans. All sweet things are strictly forbidden. Children can no longer play all day. They must go toschool. Dads have to go to work to get nickels and dimes.”

Princess Esther asked, “What happened that made you want to do this?”

King Simon said, “I wasn’t me. It was my nasty Uncle Jonathan and his mean friend Mortimer Sour.”

Princess Esther answered,” Why do you have to listen to them? After all, you are the king. You can overrule him.”

“I can?” asked King Simon.

“Yes, you can. You are far more powerful than he is.” King Simon called to his guards. “Bring Mortimer Sour and Uncle Jonathan to me immediately!”
The two men were summoned up and brought before the king within the hour.

King Simon said, “You are mean and evil and I don’t have to listen to you! From now on, I remove all of your power and you are to spend the rest of your days in the dungeons. I am installing a new law. Boys and girls can eat all the sweets they want to, and no one will stop them.”

Mortimer Sour and Uncle Jonathan began to protest. The king stood up from his throne and said to his guards, “Take them to the dungeon and throw away the keys! Bring on the chocolate,marshmallows and jelly beans!”

“Hip, Hip Hooray,” said the children of the kingdom. Everything was back to normal in the Land of Sweet. Life was good again.

And dentists began to make a great living.







Ever since I moved to Winnipeg I look forward to going to as many social events as possible with my Mother Hilda Stern. She is a resident of the Sharron Home and along with Mom’s caregiver Marcella the three of us spent Friday evening March 4, 2011  with other seniors at the Shabbat Alive event, hosted by t the Rady JCC and the Gwen Sector Creative Living Centre held at the Asper Campus.

The event we attended was part of  the “Shabbat Across Winnipeg” program which was coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.  There  were other Shabbat services and dinners held at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Herzlia Synagogue, Temple Shalom, Chabbad, BBYO Winter Convention, J-Peg Shabbat at 378 Lipton, and Sholom Aleichem’s Shabbat.
The group who attended the event was made up of members from the Gwen Sector as well as the Stay Young group.

I was picked up by the bus at my apartment door. As I waltzed into the bus I got a look from the bus driver silently thinking “what is she doing here.” ( at least I hope that is what he thought.)

I sat down next to Min Cantor who knew my Mother back when she was a young girl living on my Baba and Zayde’s farm in Birds Hill, Manitoba. Min filled my ears with wonderful stories of her youth, marriage, children and grandchildren. I also enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the other member of the group who actually made a few racy jokes.
Upon arriving at the dinner, I   noticed that the room was decorated beautifully and put us all in the Shabbat mood.
My mother and I were fortunate to sit at a table with four charming men. One gentleman  George Kives told me about his farm in Zonenfield Saskatchewan once he heard that I had lived in Regina Saskatchewan for many years. I felt an immediate bond with him we shared many common friendships with people who lived in Regina, Estevan and other parts of Saskatchewan.

The evening began with Gayle Waxman, executive director of the Rady Centre graciously welcomed us. Steven Hyman lit the Shabbat Candles while everyone at my table designated me to light them as well. Each table designated a person to light the candles and sing the blessing along with Steven. The most touching part of the event was when two and a half year old Adam Hyman (Steven’s son) sang the Shalom Alecheim and all the seniors participated. Steven recited the kiddush and each of us had a toast on grape juice, followed by the blessing of the bread.  Hyman then said the blessing before he washed his hands, and others who wanted to also washed.

Our dinner I understand was prepared by the wonderful chefs at the Gwen Sector. I felt that I was eating at my mother’s shabbat table. There was salad, succulent chicken so tender it just melted in your mouth, and  kugel cooked to perfection with the  right flavor to make a shabbat dinner truly gesmack (Yiddish for delicious). The plate also contained some healthy vegetables cooked once again to perfection.  The delicious lemon cake for dessert which made forget about my diet !

After dinner Steven did the Shiva Brachot (seven blessings) and we all participated following along in our prayer books.

We were later entertained by Craig, who played the piano and Christina, who sang a wonderful range of songs-- Yiddish, opera, songs from long ago and not so long ago.
The last few minutes of the concert I could see that my mother was getting tired. It had been a wonderful evening for everyone.

Special thanks ought to be given to Kathy Hallick Taylor and Roberta Malam and also the wonderful young ladies who help serve and hang up our coats

As I went home with all of my bus companions I couldn’t help over hear the conversation about how much they all enjoyed the evening. As I was the first one to be dropped off I said good night to everyone and they responded by saying “Shabbat Shalom”. These words added to the magical spirit of the evening.

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