Purim Explanation

Welcome to Ramat Shalom’s 36th Annual

Purim Extravanganza

Warning: You are about to experience the absurdity of Purim.

If you afraid of laughter, satire and fun, DO NOT ENTER.

 Disclaimer (aka: Rabbi’s Lame Attempt to Educate You Before We Begin)

Tonight, with the help of our congregant, Bruce Braffman, we literally read the Ganze Megillah (Yiddish for “the whole Megillah” or Book of Esther – good news: we actually read the important parts, not the whole thing) which details the heroic efforts of Esther and Mordechai.  We celebrate their bravery as we hear how they destroy evil Haman who was determined to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth.  As we read the Megillah, every time Haman’s name is spoken, we shake our groggers (Purim noise makers) to drown out not just Haman’s name, but also his very existence.   We also eat hamantaschen (Yiddish for Haman’s pockets), pockets of dough filled with fruit or chocolate.  Hamantaschen are three-cornered cookies, representing the three-cornered hat that evil Haman wore.  Just like we drown out his name, we annihilate his hat by eating as many hamataschen as we can!!!

The events described in the Megillah took place around 425BCE.  2,500 years later, we still gather to celebrate Haman’s demise and the victory of Esther, Mordechai and the Jewish people.  Amazing!!!

All over the world tonight, Jews of all denominations celebrate Purim by  “letting our hair down”, blurring established rules of etiquette and engaging in topsy-turvy antics.   Even in the most traditional Jewish communities, Purim is a time when men dress as women, women dress as men, children dress like adults and adults are encouraged to drink alcohol until they can’t figure out the difference between Mordechai and Haman.  (Although adult beverages are served, we don’t encourage this here!)

Part of the absurdity of the Purim celebration is the Purim Shpiel (Yiddish for “Purim play”) which dates back to 14th century Europe.  A true Purim Shpiel is one that pushes the limits of a community by poking fun at them, particularly its leaders.  Shpiels are filled with sarcasm, absurdity, and humor.  They give Jewish communities all over the globe the opportunity to pause, stop taking themselves so seriously and blow off much needed steam.  Our Shpiel, like most, is PG-13A free children’s program is being offered in the Education Building.  All activities will conclude by 8:00PM.

Costumes are an integral part of the absurdity of Purim.  The Megillah begins with a costume parade where the foolish King Achashverosh picks his new wife Esther.  Today, Purim costumes are used by many to satirize society.  Given this, Rabbi Andrew has chosen to dress up as the epitome of American society, class and culture.  You will have to see it to believe it.

Our Shpiel, known as the “Evening Jews” will begin at 7:00PM.  Five “celebrity” anchors will be presenting three “acts” of timely Purim news this evening. The Megillah reading will take place after each act.

Get a drink and some hamantaschen, sit back and let your hair down.  Don’t take ANYTHING seriously and, please, laugh.  Tonight is a celebration of the victory of the Jewish people.   Have a good time!  Thanks for coming!!!

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