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Thursday, February 21, 2008
Answer Maven



This is part of our Feb/Mar 2008 issue.

Q: I read on the internet that Christians are fascinated with the story of Purim? What's up with that?

A: First things first. Don't believe everything you read (except if you're reading my column). Secondly, the whole thing sounded weird to me too, so I consulted the experts (and by the experts, I mean my four rabbinic brothers). As it turns out, Christians actually do have a little thing for Esther. For one, Francoise d'Aubigne, wife of King Louis XIV of France, actually commissioned a playwright to pen a tragedy called Esther. For two, Handel later composed a classical piece based on that Esther play. In modern times, Christian families are naming their daughters Esther like it's the new Britney or Christina, and there are many Christian-backed film adaptations of the Purim story including One Night with the King, released in 2006.

So what is it about Esther? Truth be told, I had no idea Christians were so fascinated with Esther, though now that I think of it, I should have known. After all, my mailwoman's name is Esther, and so is my favorite teller down at the bank (nothing like a morning spent at your neighborhood bank -- I could spend hours counting all my Answer Maven millions). Neither of these woman are Jewish, but it never struck me as odd that they had a Jewish name before.

I figured if I'm going to get the answer, I might as well go to the source (no, not Wikipedia) and ask one of these Esthers herself (I picked my bank teller; in case my question offends her, there will conveniently be a piece of Plexiglas separating the two of us). When I asked her, I was relieved to find that she was more than happy to tell me. You see, Esther is one of the few female heroines in the Bible. So who wouldn't want to name their daughter after her? (Unless you're the kind of person who likes to name their children after villains; you know who you are, Nebuchadnezzar Johnson.) Esther told me that there is even a Christian cartoon about the story called Esther: the Girl Who Became Queen, except instead of Haman wanting to kill the Jews (apparently a plotline too dire for a kids cartoon), he wants to send Esther and her family to the "Island of Perpetual Tickling". Seriously, I'm not making that up.

Q: What is the proper etiquette when you run into a celebrity? Are you just supposed to pretend you don't see them? Is it ok to ask for a picture?

A: Firstly, if you run into anyone, you should probably apologize (yuk, yuk).

But in all seriousness, how fortuitous that you would ask such a question! On my most recent trip to Los Angeles, I myself ran into a celebrity! (If you didn't know any better, you'd think I just made up these questions.) Here are the things you don't want to do: 1. Don't tell them you were just reading about him in US Weekly (which I did) 2. Also don't tell him you're his biggest fan (which I did) 3. Do not under any circumstances mention that you much prefer his previous girlfriend to his current one (which I did, seconds before realizing his current girlfriend was steps behind him). Do smile. Do ask for a picture (you're going to need it as evidence later). Do stay cool, calm, and collected. Nothing says loony bin like a crazed celebrity-sighter.

Q: I still haven't gotten used to the daylight savings time change. Any tips on how to help me get back on track?

A: Er, um, it seems the AJL mailroom is a little behind on their mail delivery. No bother, I've still got the answer for you. The sooner you start thinking in terms of the new time, the sooner you'll adjust to it. So the next time your clocks change, set them behind (or ahead) an hour in the middle of the day before the time changes. Trust me, it'll work (I am the Answer Maven, after all. I might as well give you some real answers once in a while).

And I have a little tip for you. There's a little thing I like to call electronic mail. It helps you get messages to people a bit faster than snail mail. Try it next time you have a timely quandary for me, ok?

Until next time, I remain, Answer Maven.


--Text by Chanie Cohen Kirschner / Illustration by Fred Harper

This is part of our Feb/Mar 2008 issue.
posted by Benyamin | 4:27 PM | Link | |
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