Unlike Jewish holidays like Passover or Hanukkah which are primarily celebrated in the home, Purim is celebrated in the community. Even if you don’t belong to a synagogue, do but rarely attend, or are of the “non-religious” sort, there are several events you can attend in your area to feel the Purim spirit. Although specifics vary depending on the size and nature of your local Jewish community, look out for the following:
Carnivals are put on by temples and synagogues, but the community at large is almost always welcome. This is a great one for the kids as children and adults usually dress-up in costumes. It is a typical carnival atmosphere with bouncy houses, face painting, food and other activities. There may be a small admission charge and activities may also have nominal fees. Bring cash and have a great time. Compared to other entertainment for your kids, here in L.A. Purim Carnivals are a serious Bubbe’s Bargain.
PURIM SPIEL or MUSICAL
A big temple may put in a comical play or musical if they have auditorium facilities. Often free-of-charge, non-members of the temple are usually welcome. If you aren’t familiar, this is a great way to get a peak at the inside of your local temple in a structured environment that is light-hearted and informal.
Some temples will have a Purim Ball for adults, which is essentially a masquerade party. Sometimes dinner or a buffet is included and of course there will be dancing and drinks. Like a dance club, there is a fee to attend and you will have to RSVP ahead of time, but non-members of the temple are typically welcome.
Hear the Book of Esther read at your local temple or synagogue. There is almost never a charge for this and like almost every other service (except the High Holidays), non-members are welcome and it is free. Bring a grogger or other noisemaker to blot out the name of Haman as it is spoken. Large temples will have several readings for each age group and inclination of frivolity, so you can choose a reading that speaks to your level of sophistication.
Because Purim is the most outwardly social Jewish holiday, it is a great time to get closer to your Jewish community. Because I have a young child, I’ll be going to a Purim Carnival and a Megillah reading especially for kids. How will you be celebrating Purim this year?
photo by Daniel Roe from Unsplash