Purim Smarts

by  Deborah Rubin Fields

(This is an edited version of the article previously published in AACI’s April-May 2011 edition of the VOICE)

Purim:  a holiday that Jerusalemites love, but the environment hates. Why? Because of the wastefulness that goes with the holiday. This Purim, let’s try to “go easy” on the excessive plastic gift packaging and disposable table service. Below are some suggestions for making Purim into more of an eco-holiday.

    • Send e-blessings, rather than (cutting down trees to make into) paper cards.
    • Choose healthy mishloach manot items which can be used as part of your friends’ seudah (think whole grain crackers or containers of hummus, for example).  Many health-conscious recipients end up tossing sugary junk food into the trash.

  • Wrap your mishloach manot in a reusable cloth towel rather than cellophane or other plastic wrap, which would sit in a landfill for more years than you can imagine! Package in reusable containers, such as attractive mugs or netillat yadaim cups, rather than  disposables — your friends, and the earth, will be grateful to you all year round.
  • Borrow costumes from a neighbor or a gemach, rather than buying (and discarding) flimsy new ones each year.  If you are handy with a sewing machine, make your own costumes, which will be unique and creative, as well as sturdy enough to outfit little pirates or princesses for years to come.
  • “Green” your seudah table in a number of ways:

Napkins and tablecloths: Consider using a cloth tablecloth. If you use cloth napkins and tablecloths, they ideally should be made of organic cotton. If you use paper products, make sure they are unbleached products. The point here is to reduce the reliance on environmentally harmful petroleum-based pesticides and chlorine.
Cups and Plates: If you do not have a permanent, reusable set of cups and plates in your home or congregation, or the means to acquire them, then purchase only paper or compostable products. Read the label on the paper dish package to ensure that they do not have a plastic coating. Currently, disposable dishes that are acceptable for composting are composed of sugar cane, maize or potato products. In Jerusalem, for example, you can find compostable tableware at Gindhi’s paper supply store on Agrippas Street and Party Time in the Achim Yisrael Mall in Talpiot.
Cutlery: Instead of using plastic forks, knives and spoons, put out wooden toothpicks. Needless to say, using wooden toothpicks will require you to carefully consider what holiday refreshments may be served with such utensils. Leave out a small container (marked “Toothpicks for Composting”) so that congregants can dispose of their used pieces.  Alternatively, use a permanent, reusable set of cutlery or arrange a refreshment table of just “finger foods.”  Finally, you may also purchase compostable cutlery at the above mentioned stores.
Beverage Bottles: Recycle glass wine/grape juice bottles and plastic water/soft drink bottles. Teach your guests to turn over the empty plastic bottles to check that the bottom has the triangular recycling symbol. Point out the recycling triangle, as well as the code name PET or the number 1.  Take your glass bottles back to your grocery. Redeem the deposit. Donate the returned change to your favorite charity.
Leftovers: If your neighborhood has a compost container, collect non-dairy and non-meat based food leftovers to throw into the compost box. Do not, however, put in oily foods or foods that have seeds. Alternatively, you can take your organic waste to the City’s Recycling Center in Givat Shaul across from Herzog Hospital. This center is open daily, throughout the day.
Clean-up: After everyone leaves, tidy up using environmentally friendly cleaners. These products generally have a plant base. They contain no phosphates, no animal ingredients, no chlorine, and no petroleum. Furthermore, they have not been tested on animals. After the floors have been scrubbed, nourish your garden with the gray water.

Deborah Rubin Fields is a Jerusalem based educational writer and copywriter. She is the ebook author of Take a Peek Inside: A Child’s Guide to Radiology Exams.


AACI will  be hosting 2 Purim events this year.

1.     Songs, Stories & Snack for Purim! (Children’s Programs with Mimi)
Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 from 15:30 – 16:30 PM
Who: For children ages 3 and up
Where:AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center, Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2, Talpiot   MAP
Cost per child: AACI members NIS 25/non-members NIS 30. Family price (3 siblings or more): AACI members NIS 60/non-members NIS 75

Please pre-register so we know how much snack is needed. To receive more information, to register or to volunteer with the children’s programs, call 02-566-1181 or 052-754-7111 or email AACIKidslibrary@gmail.com.
2.     Rabbi Ada Zavidov: A Feminist Perspective on Purim (AACI Jerusalem Retired Active Persons )
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, at 11:00 AM
Where: AACI Jerusalem – Dr. Max & Gianna Glassman Family Center, Pierre Koenig 37, corner of Poalei Tzedek 2, Talpiot   MAP
Cost:NIS 10A weekly update of RAPS programs is sent by email. To receive these, please e-mail

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