March 2020
Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Phone: 508-994-4972
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editing and Proofreading: David and Leonore Dvorkin
Formatting: David Dvorkin
In this Table of Contents, three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used to separate articles to make using your browser’s search feature easier. If any of you have screen readers that make searching difficult or undoable with asterisks, please let us know not only that, but also if three number signs ### would be easier. If you are a screen reader user for whom neither symbol works, please let us know what works best, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
In columns like Special Notices, Readers’ Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, letters of the alphabet—A, B, C, etc.—are used to separate items.
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Walnuts, Obesity, Tart Cherry Juice, Body Temperature, and More *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
2. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Weather in West Texas *** by James R. Campbell
3. WEATHER OR NOT: Spring Snowstorms and the Sun *** by Steve Roberts
5. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
7. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
8. MARCY’S SCHMOOZE TINNIH *** by MarcyJ. Segelman
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Walnuts, Obesity, Tart Cherry Juice, Body Temperature, and More
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Leonore welcomes comments on any of her articles.
A. Some of the Benefits of Walnuts
Article title:
Regular walnut consumption linked to health and longevity for women, according to new study
Source: EurekAlert, February 25, 2020
According to the study, which looked at data from 33,391 women in the Nurses’ Health Study to evaluate the association between nut consumption and well-being in aging, women in their late 50s and early 60s who consumed at least two servings of walnuts per week had a greater likelihood of healthy aging than those who did not eat walnuts. Healthy aging was defined as longevity with sound mental health and no major chronic diseases, cognitive issues, or physical impairments following the age of 65. After accounting for various factors that could influence health in older adults, such as education and physical activity, walnuts were the only nut associated with significantly better odds of healthy aging.
Previous research has found that eating walnuts may have a positive impact on reducing the risk for physical impairments in older adults, cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
The bottom line is that while there is no one solution to slowing down the effects of aging, adopting the right habits, like snacking on a handful of walnuts, can help.
Additional notes:
My husband and I have long made a habit of eating a variety of nuts every day, including walnuts. We read some time ago that walnuts are good for the brain. Costco sells delicious mixed nuts, but that mix does not include walnuts. Therefore, also from Costco, we regularly purchase large bags of walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios, as well of tins of wonderfully crunchy roasted and salted peanuts. Small portions of several types of nuts, including walnuts, are a part of every breakfast in our home, and I also sprinkle some mixed nuts on the whole-grain cereal I eat at night.
Looking online for more information on the benefits of walnuts, I found that it’s good to eat them in the morning, as they can help regulate blood pressure during the day. However, they can also help improve sleep quality, so a small nighttime snack of walnuts is also a good idea.
All nuts have a variety of health benefits. They keep very well in the refrigerator until they are eaten up. Nuts can also be frozen with no loss of nutrients or overall quality.
B. Obesity and Aging
Article title: The effects of obesity mirror those of aging
Sources: ScienceDaily, February 25, 2020, and Concordia University
Summary: Researchers say that obesity should be considered premature aging. Obesity predisposes people to acquiring compromised genomes, weakened immune systems, and decreased cognition. It increases their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer (including breast cancer), and other illnesses often seen in older individuals. Many previous studies have already linked obesity to premature death.
Obesity is a factor that accelerates the mechanisms of aging, including the aging of the immune system. These mechanisms can make obese individuals more susceptible to influenza. They are also at a higher risk of sarcopenia, a disease that features a progressive decline in muscle mass and strength.
Globally, an estimated 1.9 billion adults and 380 million children are overweight or obese. More people are dying from being overweight than underweight.
C. Tart cherry juice may juice up the brain
Source: EurekAlert, July 28, 2019 / University of Delaware
Montmorency tart cherry juice has long been known to help gout sufferers, athletes recovering from exercise, and those seeking a good night’s sleep. Now there’s evidence that it might help improve cognitive performance in older adults.
A study at the University of Delaware found that daily intake of tart cherry juice improved memory scores among adults 65 to 73. Improvements in cognitive function were seen in several areas, including visual memory and new learning.
The lead author of the study, Sheau Ching Chai, remarks that cognitive function is a key determinant of independence and quality of life among older adults. The potential beneficial effects of tart cherries may be related to the bioactive compounds they possess. They may also be related to tart cherry’s potential blood pressure lowering effects, as blood pressure can influence blood flow to the brain.
Additional notes:
My husband and I became interested in tart cherry juice after we read that it can help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, as we both have some osteoarthritis. (We are both in our mid-70s.) Tart cherries and their juice are not to be confused with sweet cherries, which are generally enjoyed fresh, and which we also love. We buy delicious organic tart cherry juice, R. W. Knudsen brand, labeled “Just Tart Cherry,” in one-quart bottles at the supermarket.
We also use capsules of dried tart cherry powder. On the label, it says that the product “supports joint integrity, movement and flexibility.” The capsules are from Swanson Vitamins, They offer a very wide range of high-quality supplements at excellent prices, and they often run specials with discounts, BOGO offers, and free shipping.
D. Our falling body temperature
Source: THE WEEK Magazine, February 7, 2020, Health and Science section
Here’s a medical curiosity for you. In 1851, German doctor Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich took the temperatures of some 25,000 people and concluded that the average human body temperature was 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That number has remained the benchmark for scientists and doctors, but now it may be a little too high.
Our bodies have cooled down since then. The normal body temperature today is about 97.5 degrees. The most likely explanation for this heat drop is a population-wide reduction in inflammation. People today have fewer infections, thanks to vaccines and antibiotics. The concluding line: “Microbiologically, we’re very different people than we were.”
E. A surprising benefit of increasing the minimum wage
Source: THE WEEK Magazine, January 24, 2020
State-level increases of just $1 in minimum wage were tied to a 3.4 to 5.9 percent decrease in suicide rates among adults 18-64 with a high school diploma or less.
About the Author
Leonore H. Dvorkin and her husband, David Dvorkin, live in Denver, Colorado. David is the author of 29 published books, both fiction and nonfiction. Leonore is the author of four published books and teaches languages and exercise classes.
Since 2009, David and Leonore have been editing books and helping other authors self-publish them in e-book and print. The e-books are text-to-speech enabled.
Bob Branco, the publisher of this newsletter, is one of their 80+ editing clients. His book My Home Away from Home: Life at Perkins School for the Blind (C 2013) is an informative and moving account of his years at what is probably the country’s best-known school for the blind.
Details of Bob’s four nonfiction books are here:
The Dvorkins invite you to visit any of their websites for more information about their books and services.
David Dvorkin:
Leonore Dvorkin:
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services:
2. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Weather in West Texas
by James R. Campbell
On Wednesday, February 5, people in the Permian Basin and surrounding area were treated to a sight that is rarely seen in West Texas. In Odessa, there were six inches of snow on the ground; nearby Big Spring received 12 inches. The forecasters at CBS7, our Odessa CBS affiliate, were right on the money. They saw what was coming and used their knowledge to encourage people in our area to prepare for inclement conditions.
Odessa and the greater Permian Basin are considered desert country. We’re lucky if we get 20 inches of rain in one year. In 1986, 1991, and 2014, we exceeded that amount. 2011-2013 saw one of the worst droughts in recent memory. Many ranchers and farmers went out of business due to the lack of the rain they needed for livestock and crops. Often, summer in those dustbowl years saw temperatures in the 100-plus range for many days in a row.
Just before New Year’s Day of 2015, we got hit with one of the worst ice storms in years. Driving was extremely hazardous. Ice coated everything, breaking tree limbs, bringing down telephone and cable lines, and making venturing outdoors dangerous for the elderly, let alone anyone else. Thankfully, most people who didn’t have to get out stayed home, and I felt sorry for those who had no choice but to brave the extremely dangerous conditions.
During the latest round, schools called off classes, and many offices were closed. Local reporters discouraged travel unless it was absolutely necessary. Since people in West Texas aren’t accustomed to blizzard conditions, they don’t know how to drive in snow and ice.
By contrast, Aunt Sue knows how to drive in it; she grew up in southeastern Oklahoma. Icy roads and blizzard conditions are a frequent part of life in that region. I vividly remember the morning Uncle Bill went to the hospital in nearby Denison, Texas. The roads were covered with a solid sheet of ice, yet Uncle Jerry and Aunt Linda drove him from Calera, Oklahoma to the Denison hospital. He had prostate surgery the next day and recovered fully. To the credit of his brother and sister-in-law, despite inclement road conditions, they risked their own lives to get him the help he needed.
Spring and summer in West Texas bring their own hazards. We live in Tornado Alley. Tornado sightings are almost regular occurrences from March to September. When we have severe storms, flash floods are common, and people have lost their lives driving through low–water crossings. Some streets in Odessa turn into rivers. The engineers who planned the city’s layout didn’t allow for the type of weather that comes in spring and summer. As a result, water doesn’t drain easily, and drivers face the possibility that their cars will stall, or worse.
Another problem comes from hail. In 2017, many homes, including ours, suffered hail damage and needed extensive repairs. In 1973, $6 million in damage resulted from a freak flare-up that saw hailstones as large as basketballs pummel the city. I was here when that happened. I lived through it. I will tell you that it was one of the most frightening experiences I have been through, something I don’t wish to repeat.
I am thankful for our local journalists and meteorologists, who strive diligently to protect the public in times like these. They deserve more credit than they get, and my hope is that great things will come their way as repayment for their tireless efforts.
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
3. WEATHER OR NOT: Spring Snowstorms and the Sun
by Steve Roberts
In the months of December and January, the angle of the sun is low, and the sun’s rays have to pass through more of the earth’s atmosphere just to reach the surface of the earth. This is why it’s colder in the winter than it is in the summer. The low sun angle coupled with the long nights keep it colder during the winter months.
During cloudy days, not only do the sun’s rays have the atmosphere’s greater cross section to contend with, they must also contend with the blocking action of cloud cover. The winter storms of December and January will produce snow that accumulates unabated by the rays of the sun.
Once we get to Valentine’s Day, the sun angle has increased sufficiently to have big impacts on the weather. Though it can still get very cold, the days are starting to get warmer. This is because the sun’s rays have to pass through less of the atmosphere to reach the ground.
Though clouds still block out the sun, the sun’s rays can now pierce the clouds and warm the ground beneath. Now when it snows, the snow melts on contact with paved surfaces. In mid- to late February, the snow can actively accumulate by day if it starts falling at night and falls with great intensity during the day. As we enter March, the vast majority of storms will produce snow that melts on contact with paved surfaces. This is due to the fact that the March sun angle is comparable to that of October.
There are, however, some notable exceptions to the rule. On April 6 and 7, 1982, a powder blizzard buried southern and central New England beneath a foot or more of snow. The snows of that storm stuck to the ground from the start of the storm to the finish.
On March 13, 1993, a superstorm started to deposit snow in the morning hours. This storm’s great snows stuck to the ground right out of the gate. This storm buried portions of the South beneath feet of snow.
Both storms were preceded by bitterly cold air that set the stage for the snow to accumulate unabated by the strong spring sun.
About the Author:
Steven P. Roberts is the author of the 2014 book The Whys and Whats of Weather, which is available in e-book and print from Amazon and multiple other online sellers. Full details and buying links are here: 
by Robert D. Sollars
I don’t believe that in this day and age there is anything that can remotely be considered cultural appropriation. It’s all a shell game by people who are offended by anything and everything in their delusional world. They wish to make points so they can get news coverage. I agree with getting news coverage if it’s because of a valid point. In their minds, it is. For example, Adam Schiff claiming that President Trump is planning on selling Alaska back to Russia. Or PETA thinking that Punxsutawney Phil is abused and misused, and they’re upset at this treatment. Or the one that started this post: that the team names of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are racist, and so are their fans.
Why are they all racist? Because the Chiefs culturally appropriated an Indian name, and the historical ‘49ers treated Indians badly and stole California from Mexico. Both of those are nonsense, and people saying that don’t know the truth about either one.
The ‘49ers didn’t steal California from Mexico. Mexico lost a war with the United States in 1848 and gave up their claim on the entire Southwest.
Do you know why sports teams chose Indian names for their mascots? It’s because those tribes were feared and respected by the settlers traveling west. They were among the most fearsome warriors this world has ever seen. It’s a sign of respect that teams chose these names, not disrespect.
Every single culture on this planet appropriates something from other cultures—food, liquor, clothes, hairstyles, music, Hawaiian shirts, kimonos, language, etc.
Our society is offended by something every single day of the year for innumerable reasons. Some are reasonable, and others not. Should I start a movement about being offended by the term security guard instead of security officer? Maybe I could keep my name in the news that way!
About the Author:
Robert D. Sollars has three published books and one on the way, all involving security or customer service. He is in the process of finishing his first novel. Check out his books at .
5. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
There are many times dogs bring people together. We hear about it thanks to social media and the news media. It’s even more satisfying when positive stories involving our guide dogs are shared. I thought I would share one example.
I met a female veteran while running a service dog workshop. She attended the workshop because she was interested in obtaining a guide dog. She had been slowly losing her vision, and because she was a dog lover and had owned many dogs over the years, she was asking some complex questions. The guide dog instructor and I spoke with her. A few months later, I met her and the admissions director at Guiding Eyes for the Blind for a private tour.
We stayed in touch. I followed her progress through the application and the interview. I had last spoken to her with the good news that she was just waiting on a class date for training.
Then I was dismissed from the veterans’ center, and I was not allowed to take any of her contact information upon leaving. I worried about losing touch. Two weeks ago, I got a call from her. She was in class training with her first guide dog. I was so happy that I wanted to jump for joy. She invited me to the graduation and lunch as a way to thank me.
I hung up, tears of joy for her brimming in my eyes. Being able to share the beauty and joy of working with a guide dog is helping my friend to get her life back on track, and it’s all because of people and organizations like Guiding Eyes for the Blind helping others like my friend. I’m so grateful to have been part of it and can’t wait to give her a big hug when we meet tomorrow.
“Making meaningful connections with others through writing.”
Ann Chiappetta’s three books of nonfiction, poetry, and essays are available from multiple e-book sellers and in print. Her two books Upwelling: Poems (2016) and Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust (2017) are also available as audiobooks from Information about her fourth book, which was just published, is below, in Authors’ Corner. The title is A String of Stories: From the Heart to the Future.
To learn more about Ann, go to her website,, or her blog, .
Her book-related website is .
A novella by Canadian author Thea Ramsay
C 2018 / In e–book ($2.99) and print ($7.50) on Amazon
Full details of this and the author’s other publications, which are a novel and a short story:
Review by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Part ghost story, part psychological puzzle, and totally terrific, A Very Special House will no doubt haunt your memory for a long time to come. The evocation of the atmosphere of both Maui and the special "honey house" that resides there is superb. Unusual and striking are the author's mentions of various beloved smells: of flowers, rain, wood, new paper, new pencils, food, and more. As a fellow writer, I have to say that this novella features some of the best and most realistic dialogue I've ever read. Throughout the book, the reader is borne along on alternating waves of memory and wishing, of what was and what was longed for. The surprise ending is deeply gratifying. Don't miss this compact masterpiece by a very talented author!
by David Dvorkin
Originally published by Dodd, Mead in hardcover in 1983. Released as a new, high-quality hardcover from IngramSpark in 2020. Also in paperback, e-book, and audio. For sale in all formats on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and multiple other buying sites. The e-book is text-to-speech enabled.
Full details and buying links:
When Sherlock Holmes gives up the adventurous life of a consulting detective and retires to the Sussex countryside to raise bees, little does he or his old friend Dr. John Watson realize that their greatest adventure lies ahead—an adventure spanning centuries and extending across the solar system.
The future of civilization is at stake as Sherlock Holmes finds himself moving inexorably toward the final and most terrible confrontation with his ancient enemy, the time-jumping Napoleon of Crime, Professor Moriarty.
"A really wild one. ... So off the old pals go, into outer space, to save mankind again. Doyle to Wells to Dvorkin — nice triple play!" — New York Times Book Review
"Delightfully preposterous. ... Somewhere, Arthur Conan Doyle may be loving all of this. For us, it's a lot of fun."— The Arizona Republic
From various reviews on Amazon:
“One might think the master himself were alive and well and still chronicling the adventures of Holmes and Watson, so skillfully has David Dvorkin carried on the tradition. This beautifully crafted pastiche sticks faithfully to the language, flavor and attitude of the original stories.”
“Entertaining and easy to read.”
“I loved it.”
About the author:
David Dvorkin is the author of 29 published books, both fiction and nonfiction. Full details are on his website: . He and his wife, the author and editor Leonore H. Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since 1971. Together, they run DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services: .
C. Just published!
by Ann Chiappetta (2020)
In e-book and print (182 pages) from Amazon and other online sellers. 
The e-book is text-to speech enabled.
Cover image, free text preview, author bio, buying links, and more:
Ann is the author of three previous books:
Upwelling: Poems (2016), Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust (2017), and Words of Life: Poems and Essays (2019)
About A String of Stories:
A demon deer and a ghost cat. Sibling rivalry and sexual awakening. Self-image and self-confidence. The chance for an offworlder to breathe free at last on a new planet. Those are just some of the diverse themes of these remarkable stories. Some endings are happy, some are sad, and some are intriguingly open-ended. But once you step inside the author’s world, you cannot emerge unmoved.  
From the Introduction:
This collection, my most diverse to date, includes general fiction, science fiction, suspense, and paranormal pieces. There is a romantic theme to some, and all are character-driven. The three paranormal shorts are based on personal experiences. I’d like to think there are stories here that will appeal to many different types of readers, and that there’s at least one story for each reader.
D. An important note for all clients of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services:
We are now able to offer our clients the option of having their books in hardcover as well as in paperback and e-book formats. The hardcovers are from IngramSpark, and the production quality is first-rate. This option is somewhat more expensive for the author, as it is necessary to pay a set-up fee and to purchase an ISBN. Also, there is a charge any time subsequent changes are made to the published book. (There are none of those charges from Amazon or Smashwords.) However, a few of our clients have expressed interest in having one or more of their books in hardcover. If you are interested in this option, please contact David at .   
by Karen Crowder
Everyone is happy to welcome this month’s arrival. It is the ending of a long winter. Days grow longer and warmer, with daffodils and crocuses. However snowy, blustery weather can surprise people from Northeast, Far West, and Midwestern states. The snow disappears with the arrival of warming weather and more sunlight. On shopping channels and in emails, catalogs, and  stores, there are tantalizing spring outfits, gardening supplies, and patio furniture.
There are three special days in March. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 8. Saint Patrick’s Day is Tuesday, March 17; Boston and New York are cities with huge parades. Spring arrives Saturday, March 21.
March is still the season for delicious comfort food. Because of the Lenten season, I emphasize fish and seafood. The last recipe, corn muffins, is a repeat for new readers.
Creamed Crabmeat with Rice and Mushrooms
Baked Flounder
Scrumptious Corn Muffins
A. Creamed Crabmeat with Rice and Mushrooms
The idea for this recipe is from the braille cookbook A Leaf from Our Table. I often prepared it for my late husband, Marshall. He loved it and would have enjoyed the addition of mushrooms.
One six–ounce can crab meat
One bag Success rice
Four whole mushrooms
Four tablespoons butter
Four tablespoons flour
One and three-fourths cups milk
One-fourth cup light cream or Half & Half
Dashes of curry powder and salt
Three tablespoons butter
Garlic powder, optional.
1. In a three-quart saucepan or double boiler, melt four tablespoons butter on low heat. After five minutes, add flour and stir ingredients with a wire whisk until mixture is smooth. Add milk and stir until lumps have disappeared.
2. Stir cream sauce infrequently with a wire whisk for 25 to 30 minutes. While it is cooking, add curry powder and salt.
3. While the sauce is cooking, prepare the rice. Fill a lock-lid saucepan almost half full of water and the liquid from the canned crab meat. Add salt.
4. Heat water until almost boiling and add Success rice. Cook rice for 11 to 12 minutes.
5. Microwave mushrooms for two minutes, adding butter for flavor.
6. When the sauce has thickened, add the crabmeat, mushrooms, and light cream or Half & Half. Cook creamed crab for another 15 minutes.
7. After draining the rice, cut the bag open and pour rice into a glass or plastic container. Stir in the butter and optional garlic powder. Dish hot rice into crocks or deep bowls. Add the hot crabmeat mixture.
This is a delicious meal when accompanied with rolls, salad, or hot cornbread.
B. Baked Flounder
Early in my marriage, I developed a foolproof method for baking flounder.
One pound flounder fillets
Two to four tablespoons butter
Squeezes of lemon juice and dashes of curry powder, thyme, and salt.
1.If flounder is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator the same day. Either way, rinse fresh or thawed flounder fillets under cold water.
2. Mix butter, lemon juice, and dashes of spices in a small, glass cereal bowl.
3. Dot the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch metal or Pyrex square baking pan with the butter, lemon juice, and spice mixture.
4. Place the flounder fillets in the baking pan and dot the top with the rest of the butter, lemon juice, and spice mixture.
5. If using large oven, preheat it to 350 degrees. If using large toaster oven, this is not necessary.
6. Cover pan with foil and bake fish for 20-25 minutes. Serve fish with vegetables and either rice or rolls.
Note: If flounder is not available, substitute haddock, codfish, or pollock.
C. Scrumptious Corn Muffins
This recipe is from Classic Recipes Baking Illustrated, published by America’s Test Kitchen,
Brookline, Massachusetts. Published in braille by National Braille Press.
These are the best corn muffins I’ve ever tasted. I’ve made a few changes, adding less sugar, flour, salt, and sour cream, replacing those with more cornmeal, milk, and salted butter. I also bake them for longer.
One and one-half cups all-purpose flour. Gold Medal is best.
One and one-half cups yellow corn meal
One and one-half teaspoons baking powder
One teaspoon baking soda
One-half teaspoon salt
Two large eggs
One-half cup granulated sugar
A heaping half cup of full-fat sour cream
One stick lightly salted butter
One and one-fourth to one and one-half cups milk.
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk room-temperature eggs for one minute. Add sugar and whisk again for another minute. The mixture should be “thick and homogenous.”
2. Microwave butter for 50 seconds in a glass cereal bowl.
3. In a smaller mixing bowl, measure out flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk ingredients for one minute.
4. Add sour cream to egg-sugar mixture. Whisk ingredients for one minute. Add dry ingredients and one cup milk. Stir muffin batter with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Add the rest of the milk and cooled butter. Mix muffin batter for approximately two minutes. If it feels too thick, add one-fourth cup milk and stir again. It should be smooth and easy to stir.
5. Grease 16 to 20 nonstick muffin cups using a mixture of butter and either vegetable oil or Crisco. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. With a one-fourth or one-half cup measuring cup, measure out muffin batter into each cup. Bake muffins for 30 to 35 minutes.
7. Take the muffin pans from the oven and place on a counter. Rotate a knife around each muffin cup. The muffins will effortlessly slide from the pans.
You can serve muffins piping hot with butter or refrigerate them in Ziploc bags. With a hungry family, these delicious muffins will disappear in days.
I hope all readers and listeners have a blessed and happy March. I also pray we begin to have a civil, healthy, and trusting America.
by Marcy J. Segelman
Shalom. I want to take you on a trip through the festival of Purim.
This is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a very festive time. Many people dress as characters in the story of Esther, the story the festival celebrates. The story itself is implausible as history and is better viewed as imaginative storytelling, not unlike others that circulated in the Hellenistic period among Jews of the Land of Israel and the Diaspora. The story went through many different versions before being linked with Purim.
The story is told in the Book of Esther. It says that Ahasuerus, the king of Persia, desired a new wife and chose Esther for her beauty. Unknown to him, she was a Jewess. The prime minister, Haman, hated Mordecai, Esther’s uncle and guardian, and was able to poison the king against the Jews, persuading him to condemn them all to death. Esther was able to change the king’s mind and turn him against Haman, who was executed instead of the Jews.
Purim is a time to exchange gifts, to give to the poor, and to eat special foods related to the story of Purim. While she lived in the palace, Esther ate a vegetarian diet, largely of legumes, to avoid violating the Jewish dietary laws, so it’s traditional to eat beans and peas on Purim. Hamantaschen are popular; they are triangular pastries, commemorating the triangular hat Haman is supposed to have worn, and they’re filled with preserves or other sweet fillings.
In 1945, a group of American GIs held Purim services inside the confiscated castle of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. The Jewish chaplain arranged the candles over a swastika that was carved into the bookcase in the main dining room. The Jewish soldiers told their Christian comrades about Haman and why it was so fitting that Purim service should be held in a castle belonging to Goebbels.
There are many great things about this holiday. The best part is that it’s a family holiday. The Megillah, or Book of Esther, is read aloud during Purim, and it’s tradition to make a lot of noise with a toy called a grogger or grager whenever the name Haman is said.
I hope you got a little bit out of the story of Purim, one of my favorite holidays.
Marcy J. Segelman
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the February Consumer Vision. The four remaining soap operas on network television are General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, and The Young and the Restless. Congratulations to the following winners:
Roanna Bacchus of Oviedo, Florida
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Daryl Darnell of Urbana, Illinois
And now, here is your question for the March Consumer Vision. Who assassinated Abraham Lincoln? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.
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