Hamantaschen are known to have different fillings and colors on the inside, but the dough is usually the same golden shade (or brown, depending on the oven). But at Washington University in St. Louis this year, students experienced a first in Purim cuisine on campus: pink hamantaschen. The tinted treats were part of the "Coming Out for Purim" project organized by Keshet, Washington University's association of Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied (LGBTQA) students, and the Jewish Student Union's Holiday Committee.
"We got together with Keshet when the JSU encouraged groups who may not always have a lot in common to program together," said Holiday Committee Co-Chairs Ally D'Alba and Ilana Wolgel. "The program gave new meaning to coming out in costume and definitely gave new meaning to Purim."
Students handed out 600 hamantaschen at a St. Louis Hillel event and throughout campus last week, along with a flier explaining the similarities behind Purim and LGBTQA issues. The fliers noted that just as Esther closeted her Jewish identity to maintain her status in Persia, minority group members today often feel that they need to hide their identities to maintain their status in society, and they encouraged students to break the stereotypes surrounding marginalized groups and take pride in their identities. The pink hamantaschen symbolized the pink triangle that homosexuals were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
"It was really neat to take a holiday that is fun and games and give it a personal, present-day meaning," said Margaux Buck, a member of Keshet. "People thought it was really neat, and it makes Washington University's Jewish community special."
"Coming Out for Purim" was the brainchild of Rabbi Avi Katz Orlow, the campus rabbi at St. Louis Hillel, who had been working with Keshet members on a Pesach project when he had the idea for the program.
"It was a natural shidduch," Orlow said. "It was the right opportunity for this group to really step up."
According to Amy Sandler, the Jewish campus life coordinator at St. Louis Hillel, Keshet has emerged as one of the most active Jewish campus groups in the past couple of years, sponsoring activities like the "Tour de St. Louis," a LGBT-friendly tour of St. Louis at the beginning of the year that featured St. Louis Hillel as its first stop.
"It showed LGBTQA students that there was a community here at St. Louis Hillel for them," Sandler said.