14 Adar 5773 / February 24, 2013
(celebrated at Shaaray Tefila on Erev Purim, Saturday, Feb. 23 and Purim, Sunday, Feb. 24)
Erev Purim - Saturday, February 23
5:15 pm Tot Purim Service
5:45 pm Tot Purim Carnival
6:00 pm Lay-led Adult Reading of Megilat Esther (wine and cheese at 5:30 pm)
7:30 pm Congregational Havdalah, Singing and Saturday Night Purim Spiel Fever
Check out our fantastic Purim Spiel trailer!
Purim - Sunday, February 24
11:00 am - 12:30 pm Youth Purim Carnival (For families and children ages 5 and up)
12:30 pm Encore presentation of Saturday Night Purim Spiel Fever
View our complete schedule of events on our Purim flyer.
Purim is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megilat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim. Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman, the King's prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. The reading of the megilah is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman's name is read aloud.
Purim is an unusual holiday in many respects. First, Esther is the only Book of the Bible in which God is not mentioned. Second, Purim, like Chanukah, is viewed traditionally as a minor festival, but elevated to a major holiday as a result of the Jewish historical experience. Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance of Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become - a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival against all odds.
From the website of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Bring Purim Home with You!
Ideas from Shaaray Tefila's Festival Committee:
The raucous and unique festival of Purim celebrates the Book of Esther, in which the cleverness of Esther, a Jewish woman married to the king of Persia, saves her people from annihilation at the hands of the wicked Haman.
But that's just the beginning. Purim has many customs and practices, and all of them are not only adaptable to modern city life, but they are great fun!
For starters, we are encouraged to drink on Purim! This is the time to get out that really good bottle of wine, or to host a wine-tasting party at home or at a wine bar.
We are also encouraged to give out goodies to friends and neighbors. Leave a basket of cookies for someone or send a fruit basket. This practice of "shalach mones" was commonly done by our forebears in Europe, but it has fallen by the wayside. Bring some hamentashen to work and let everyone try them. Hamentashen are three-cornered pastries filled with fruit (see photo above), and they are eaten on Purim as a symbol of Haman's three-cornered hat. They are easy to bake, but most bakeries in New York will have them this time of year, and many delis carry them as well. Because Purim is a time of giving, this is also a time to give to worthy causes. Make a donation of time or money and provide a tzedakah box at home for anyone who wants to contribute.
Most of us are familiar with Purim carnivals for children, held every year at many synagogues and Jewish organizations. Kids love to dress up in costumes and play the various games and run around. If you are ambitious, you can hold a Purim carnival at home or in a community room in your building, but if you come to Shaaray Tefila’s Tot or Youth Purim Carnivals, it will all be done for you!
Better yet, hold a Purim party at home for families. Provide wine for the adults and games for the children, and anyone who wants can come in costume. If you like, provide inexpensive masks for everyone. And while you're at it, read the story of Purim aloud, and remind everyone to boo or make noise whenever the evil Haman's name is mentioned. This is a great and easy way to relate the story to children. They love to interrupt with groggers and noisemakers, and they love the triumphant ending. If you like arts and crafts, provide materials for the kids to make three-cornered hats, and create a pin-the-hat-on-Haman game. Don't forget the tzedakah box for anyone who cares to make a donation to a worthy cause.
A Purim Spiel (a goofy presentation of the Purim story) is another great tradition. If you are dramatically inclined, put on a Purim Spiel at home for friends and family. Kids love doing this, so let them organize it and be a part of it. They can even take it over and surprise you with a spiel of their own, or they can put on a puppet show behind the sofa. All it takes is a little imagination and a good sense of humor.
At any kind of party, remember to include a brief reading of the Megilah. Rather than slow down a party or send your guests fleeing, this can be the high point. It's supposed to be zany and fun, so prepare an abbreviated script, and let your imagination run wild. Be sure to provide noisemakers, wine, and soft drinks for kids. For some tips on how to do this, click here.
By all means, don't let this hilarious and joyful holiday go by without doing something. Come to the annual adult Megilah reading at the Temple, in which readers take turns reading the Purim story aloud (in costume, often to uproarious laughter), and attend the Purim Spiel, presented by staff, members and clergy. This is your chance to see your rabbis and cantors dressed as hippies or as Donald Trump, singing specially-doctored lyrics to popular songs. The annual spiel is very popular, so come early and be prepared to laugh. Please bring a small box of pasta to serve as your grogger; leave it behind as a donation to the Yorkville Common Pantry.
Our Erev Purim 5771 / 2011 Lay-led Megillah Reading and Purim Spiel!
Like all Jewish holidays, Purim has its reflective side. It's about survival in an alien world, which relates to all Jews in the diaspora, and indeed, to Jews in Israel today. Click here for more thought-provoking tips.
Photos courtesy of Bob Wine