Tuesday, September 16, 2014 Elul 21, 5774

Dear Miriam,

This is my first Passover living on my own, and I have no idea how to get ready for the holiday. I know I should clean everything, but do I actually need a blowtorch? Do I have to cover my counters and throw away all my food?

Signed,
Passover Panic

Dear Panic,

This is one of those times where it's great to be an advice columnist and not a rabbinic authority because I'm going to answer based on what feels right rather than on what is right according to halacha (Jewish law). If you want more definitive answers, I encourage you to...

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oment to see where I'll be invited?

Signed,
Too many potlucks,

Dear Potlucks,

As I've talked about before, a lot of organizations in Philly host Shabbat dinners, and sometimes they conflict with each other, but organizations typically have their schedules publicized well in advance, so you can know what's coming up and decide where you want to eat. When an organization is hosting a potluck, I think it's ok to  RSVP as late as Friday afternoon, and, if necessary, to cancel as late as Friday afternoon. There are some important exceptions, though: If the...

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Dear Miriam,

You know that episode of "How I Met Your Mother," where Katie Holmes comes to the Halloween party dressed as "The Slutty Pumpkin?" Is there a Purim equivalent?

Signed,
Hottie Hamentaschen

Dear Hottie,

Purim is certainly an opportunity to do things out of the ordinary, in a turn-the-world-upside-down-can't-tell-blessed-Mordecai-from-cursed-Haman kind of way, including how we dress. While I don't think that the Halloween trend of making every possible costume into a "slutty" version of itself has fully carried over into Purim, you...

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