This blog was originally posted in March 2017 by Museum intern Rachel Hoffman. With Purim coming up again, we thought we’d repost this short and sweet family story from our former Visitor Services Associate Sharon Stein. Enjoy!
Sharon Lotman Stein is the first person you meet when you enter the Museum at Eldridge Street. She runs the admission desk Monday through Wednesday. With the Purim holiday coming up, everyone was thinking about the ways they’d celebrated over the years. When I sat down with Sharon, she told me her own personal Purim story.
“My Chicago mother, Lynn Lotman, was a wonderful home baker,” Sharon explained. “Every Friday morning, she would bake delicious cookies, cakes and pies for her weekly dessert gathering following the family Shabbat dinner. She also baked for holidays including a 10-egg white chiffon cake for Passover that floated off the plate, and delectable hamentashen for Purim.”
But by 1989 her mother had become ill and didn’t have as much energy to for such fests. In late March, Sharon was on the phone with her mother talking about the upcoming holiday. Lynn was ill, but she confirmed she had the energy to bake her delicious hamentashen that weekend. Sharon knew what she had to do; “My daughter and I flew to Chicago to bake with Mom. It was wonderful to be with her while we all rolled, filled and baked many dozens of apricot, raspberry and her specialty of raisins and prunes ground together with lemon juice. We left with a big box of hamentashen and wonderful memories.”
Sharon’s mom died just a few months after that last visit. “After her funeral and shiva I explored the freezer chest she had in the basement. There among the white packages of frozen meat were two containers of hamentashen. My name was written on one; my brother’s name was on the other.”
Food and drink can represent so much about our history, memory and love. We hope you share your own holiday traditions with loved ones this Purim – and everyday! We’re so grateful to Sharon for sharing this beautiful piece of her life with us.
Interview by Rachel Hoffman, intern at the Museum at Eldridge Street.