Tonight’s Purim Workout

This is the workout that I did this evening. It is based on the Book of Esther, and is annotated to explain the rationale behind each exercise from the story of Purim.

Try it out! It was a very schvitzy experience for all of us.

Purim Workout I – Hamantaschen Buster

Rabbi Michael Ungar

50 minute workout

Tabata:  40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest; each superset completed twice, followed by 90-second rest.  Total of six rounds of supersets (plus warm-up and cool-down)

Equipment needed:  mats, dumbbells, medicine ball, kettle bell

Achashverosh’s party – to reflect the party we stretched and danced for 1 minute to Hebrew Workout music from Spotify. King Achashverosh threw a party at which he asked his queen, Vashti, to dance. She refused so she was banished and the king searched for a new queen.

Warm-up:   Stretch & Dance

Beauty pageant – Not exactly politically-correct, but the king held a pageant to find a new queen. He chose Esther who (unbeknownst to him) was Jewish. The lunges represent the walk down the runway that pageant competitors do; Warrior 3 is like talent competition; floor hip abductions are because Esther managed to get a “leg up” on the competition.

Walking lunges with dumbbells

Warrior 3 (lean forward, balance on one leg, arms forward)

Floor Hip Abductions (on side, raise upper leg – each side 20 seconds)

Mordechai discovers the plot while sitting at the gate – Mordechai overhears a plot to kill the king and reports it to the authorities; he is not rewarded, but his deeds are recorded in the king’s records. Sit-ups because the plot had have caused Mordechai to sit up; single-arm side bends because it looks like you are listening in when you do these; the Russian twist because…well…so many twists to the story.


Dumbbell Side bends (one arm with dumbbell, other at ear)

Russian twists with weighted ball or kettlebell

Mordechai won’t bow to Haman – Haman, the king’s vizier was a power-hungry guy and no friend to the Jews. He had quite an ego and demanded that everyone bow down to him. The bent-over dumbbell rows represent those who did bow down; the upright rows or presses represent the Jews who would not bow down; the supermans because Mordechai was a super guy!!

Bent-over Dumbbell Rows

Upright Rows or Dumbbell Overhead Presses


Haman plans to kill the Jews – Haman was so incensed by Mordechai’s and the Jews’ refusal to bow to him that he convinced the king to allow him to kill all the Jews with the excuse that they were different and not loyal to the ruler. Lots (in Hebrew, Purim) were drawn to determine the day it would happen. To represent his evil plot, this is the most evil superset in the workout; no one was killed in the workout, but it was close!


Kettlebell swings


Esther intercedes – Mordechai knew the only way to save the Jews was to have Esther speak to her husband, the King. This would involve her revealing her true identity. It was a gamble, but Mordechai convinced Esther to do it. Her fear and ambivalence are reflected in shrugs; the front raises represent the king raising his scepter (a sign of his allowing her to speak); the hammer curls represent the strength Esther needed to confront the king and challenge Haman.

Dumbbell shrugs

Dumbbell Front Raises

Bicep Hammer Curls

The Jews are victorious – The king could not rescind the decree to have the Jews killed, but allowed the Jews to defend themselves. This prevented their being destroyed; Haman and his sons were hanged and the Jews were, once again, victorious. The squats represent our enemies who were reduced to squat; we crushed our enemies; and the tricep kickbacks? A reminder of the three-cornered hat worn by Haman that is the basis for the three-cornered Hamantaschen pastry we eat on the holiday.

Dumbbell Squats

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Tricep Kickbacks

The Celebration – After a tough workout, there is no better way to celebrate than to cool down and stretch it out. And that is a workout based on the Book of Esther and the Purim Story!


Recipe Wednesday: Healthy Hamantaschen? You bet!

I don’t know about you, but I am powerless against Hamantaschen. It may be my Hungarian Jewish background, but I cannot resist pastries and Hamantaschen are worthy rivals.

Imagine my pleasure/surprise when I found a recipe for Healthy Hamantaschen! I wouldn’t post it here unless I baked it up and tried it myself. I will tell you that the first bite tasted a little out of the ordinary, but several others have said they are actually good. I’ve already eaten more than I care to admit.

The recipe comes from Here is the link:

What makes these healthy are the following substitutions: coconut oil for butter, whole wheat flour for regular all-purpose flour, and honey for sugar.

I prepared them with almond extract (you can also use vanilla extract too), and you can taste it–fine with me! I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour which made the dough a little crumblier than it should have been (due to lower gluten content). I also used a regular jar of store-bought raspberry jam. You can use whatever type of filling you’d like. My step-daughter suggested Nutella!

I will definitely be making this recipe next week for Mishloach Manot. I know they’re still not totally healthy, but it I’ll feel a little less guilty as I celebrate Purim.

Recipe Wednesday

I’ve been making a special effort lately to try recipes that are healthy. I’ve hit a couple of clunkers, but mostly have found some delicious meals and treats that I don’t need to feel too guilty about.

This recipe comes from the website I don’t know if I’d use the word “joyful” to describe this particular recipe for Skinny Banana Nut Muffins, but they certainly made me happy! My only substitutions were that I used whole wheat pastry flour (instead of whole wheat all-purpose), and I used pure maple syrup (NOT the fake stuff) instead of honey. They were great!

If you’ve got a recipe that is healthy and almost tastes too good to be healthy, please share it with me. Each Wednesday, I will bring you a recipe that I myself have made and tasted.

Next week, healthy Hamantaschen…?