On Saturday, February 23, Bay Ridge Jewish Center’s community had a lot to be happy about. They gathered together to celebrate Purim, a holiday which commemorates the defeat of the Biblical figure Haman by Mordecai and Esther, as Haman sought to exterminate the Jews of Persia.
Joel Charles, who helped organize the event, explained that Purim is all about the saving of the Jews and that it’s extremely joyous. Esther is pictured as a pageant queen, he said. You’ll see lots of little girls dressed as her, but you’ll see other costumes, too. We like to dress up for Purim; it’s like a Jewish Halloween! It’s great for our kids.
Among the partygoers there were children dressed as Harry Potter, doctors, kittens and much more. Even the adults joined in, dressing as Dr. Seuss characters, Elvis, police officers and various animals, as well as wearing pink wigs and striped tights.
To showcase the outfits, there was a costume parade after the Hebrew school children gave a blessing and Rabbi Dina Rosenberg read the traditional story of Esther, first in Hebrew and then its English translation. Each time Haman’s name is mentioned, it is customary to shake noise-makers, stomp feet, and yell and jeer to represent that he is not welcome.
Heather Goldberger, dressed as Dr. Seuss’s Thing 1, called the holiday, A time for fun, laughter and community.
Her husband Robert Goldberger, whose Thing 2 costume was complete with blue fuzzy wig and yarmulke on top, backed her up, saying, For me, it’s a joyful time to spend with family.
The focus of the holiday is on the children, who actively participated in the readings and festivities.
I come every year and it’s my favorite holiday because I can dress up and see my friends, said Madeline, age eight.
Olympia, age seven, stated, I dressed as a kitty to help have fun!
On Purim, Jews are called on to perform two actions: Bring presents to friends and provide meals for the less fortunate, which only adds to the happiness. As partygoers munched Purim-themed snacks, they talked and joked loudly.
This is truly a joyous holiday, explained Yvette Arbeeny. A lot of our holidays are about suffering, so we finally get to have fun!