Shomer Shekalim

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High Holidays on a low budget – Purim

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Happy Adar!  Here are some tips to make sure that “venahfoch hoo” does not refer to your wallet. 

(1) Make your own mishloach manot – Why spend ₪ 80 on a basket with ₪ 7 worth of food when you can make something special yourself?  Making a mishloach manot can be a five minute process that saves hundreds of shekels.  And for those with patience and ability, home cooked foods are always a big hit.

(2) For those with a large list of mishloach manot to give – regift ASAP.  I have some friends who live in a community where they are expected to give literally dozens of mishloach manot, and will receive the same as well.  One friend told me that one year he decided that if he would just wait until 10 AM to start giving his mishloach manot, he could regift the mishloach manot he already received.  This method not only saves money, but cuts down on wasted food to be thrown out before Pesach.  There were still some close friends that he gave nicer mishloach manot to, but when it comes to mishloach manot given en masse, it is better not to go broke.

(3) Make your own costume – I have always felt that buying an already made costume is a bit unimaginative.  I don’t mean to make every item from scratch, but you can take a raw or simple costume and use your imagination to make it look nicer.  Last year I was dressed as a leprechaun and while I bought a bow tie (₪ 10), I designed the hat myself using green shelving paper (₪ 3) and a hat (₪ 15), while wearing my own green shirt.  Sadly, I found out that most Israelis don’t know what a leprechaun is (I kept being asked if I was from ale yarok).

Oh, and a note to teenage Israelis – when you buy a costume, you are supposed to add clothing.  Dressing like a devil/tramp, an angel/tramp, an astronaut/tramp, a construction worker/tramp, a witch/tramp and a bunny/tramp is all the same thing – dressing like a tramp.  I am not asking you to wear a burka, but some pants would be a good start.  And for the men – dressing like a bum is not dressing up if that is how you dress year-round.

(4) Finally, don’t let the other mitzvot make you skimp on the most important one – matanat leevyonim.  I aim to spend roughly an equal amount on matanat leevyonim as I do for all the other expenses for Purim combined.  And although there is not mitzvah of matanat leevyonim the day after, the mitzvah of tzedakah always exists.  Consider saving some of your mishloach manot food that you’re not going to eat anyways and give it to someone who really needs it.

PS – Below is my recipe for Jonny’s Irish Cream.  It’s good, parve, and is a great idea for the shehakol in your mishloach manot.

1 container of non-dairy creamer (about 4/5 of a pint)

3-4 eggs

1 cup of vodka

6-8 tablespoons of sugar

3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup

2 teaspoons of instant coffee

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

This recipe makes approximately 1 liter of Irish Creme.

When preparing be sure to use an electronic mixer – otherwise there will be little egg bits which are not too nice.  If you do not have an electronic mixer, then pour the finished product through a strainer in order to remove the little egg bits.

Chag Sameach


  1. LeahGG says:

    Last year, A Mother in Israel collected ideas for costumes that can be made low budget. She posted them here:

    My daughter came home from gan yesterday with cheap yellow fabric cut like a set of tzitzis to go over the head (round the corners to eliminate halachic issues) with black stripes of felt glued on it. On her head, she had a thick piece of black construction paper with two yellow pipe cleaners threaded through for feelers… She was a really cute bee for probably about 20 shekels with loads of leftover materials.

  2. Risa says:

    I live in Rehovot and our local chesed organization “Hod Israel” sells ready made mishloach manot and the proceeds are used to distribute food packages to the needy (year round, but on Purim as well). I give these packages instead of making up my own. Also, our Amit chapter has a Purim list where for NIS8 per name we each get a modest mishloach manot package with a list of folks who’ve donated in your name. Less junk food, more tzedaka!

    • jonnydegani says:

      Not only does AMIT’s program cut down on the wasted food and benefit Hod Israel, which helps people in need, but proceeds from the Mishloach Manot are used for Maot Chittin to help people in need this Pesach.

  3. LeahGG says:

    another thing – for those who do want to give their own mishloach manot, pre-prepared – Usually, if you give on a theme, you can cut costs.
    My neighbor gave cookies and milk a few years ago, fish cookies on chocolate rocks the year after. We gave “school lunch bags” last year – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tropit (couldn’t find juice boxes that weren’t outlandishly expensive), an apple, and a cheap chocolate bar.
    A couple years ago, I gave healthy and quirky – a red pear, an artichoke, mini-peppers, sugar-free gum, and some melon flavored sugar-free candy.
    By keeping to a theme, you can keep the price low without looking “cheap” the way you would if you put an apple and a piece of chocolate in a basket and gave that to someone.
    And be aware of the cost of your packaging… the beauty of our “school lunch bags” was that all of the packaging for all of our mishloach manot was under 10 shekels!

  4. Lynne says:

    Tell those israelis that you’re a lepra-cohen.

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