Italian Word of the Week MASCHERA

italicsBy Daniela Gross

Purim is approaching, and if you have kids they will definitely have their “maschera” ready. In Italian, a “maschera” – the word of this week – means a mask or a costume. The Italian Carnival, especially the one in Venice, is famous all around the world. Our Purim, which has a completely different meaning, certainly has not the same reputation. But in any case, it has always been a beloved event in the Italian Jewish Communities. Kids adore wearing their costumes or playing the role of Queen Esther, Amman, Mordecai or Ahasueros in school recitals. Moreover, it’s the only opportunity in which they are required make noise at the Synagogue: every time the Amman name is pronounced during the Meghillat Esther. Purim, with its parties, is a fantastic holiday also for the adults (if you don’t feel too weird wearing a disguise and acting like a fool, of course). But in some ways, it might feel strange. You and your kids are the only around with a costume: It can be embarrassing, and it also looks like a profound metaphor of our lives as Jews in the Diaspora. But we will think about that tomorrow. Now it’s time to have fun, a bit of wine, and some of the magnificent Purim cakes, which you will read about in this issue.