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Three world famous pastry chefs cooking up some hamantaschens for Purim 2008

I do not necessarily consider myself a religious Jew or even a celebratory kind of guy for that matter. But if I am picking and choosing my holidays with a discerning and skeptical eye, I think it is safe to say that Purim makes the cut. It is not a top five holiday (that exclusive list consists of Passover, Fourth of July, Yom Kippur, Guy Fawkes Day, and Festivus of course) but it still finds its way onto a top ten list.

Jews annually celebrate Purim on the 14th of Adar (which is today’s date if you are one of those too-cool-for school non-conformists that shuns the efficiency of the Gregorian calendar and buys into that whole Hebrew calendar lunisolar thing).

The story itself, which is recorded in the Book of Esther, has the same basic narrative arc as many other classical Jewish texts – some wacko foreign hot-shot wants to destroy the Jews but the evil maniacal plan foiled and the Jews live to see another day. Yay underdogs! Yay miracles! Yay survival! And today Jews are supposed to go to synagogue, pray, and eat chow-down symbolic foods to celebrate avoiding annihilation and genocide.

And while the basic story doesn’t scream originality, the Purim account has a few out of the ordinary quirks that are worth mentioning:

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