On Purim we are told to celebrate by giving gifts and giving charity. We are told to make Purim a day of feasting and happiness! On Purim – and throughout the Hebrew month of Adar (and in this leap year we get two months of Adar!) – we are commanded to be happy! We read the story of Esther, eat hamantashen (triangles of filled cookies), twirl our noisemakers, and have a great time!
There’s another way of “making merry” on Purim! We put on a Purimshpiel. Shpiel is the Yiddish word for a play, so a Purimshpiel is a play about Purim. The Purimshpiel was usually about the Purim story or the Purim characters but the actors did their best to make the audience laugh – because afterall we are supposed to be happy, right?
The Purimshpiel became popular around the middle of the 16th century when it became the custom for Jewish children to dress up in costume and go house to house, singing jingles and asking for Purim gifts or refreshments. They made up poems about the Purim story or made fun of prayers or Bible stories. Sometimes they imitated the rabbi (gasp!) or people from the synagogue.
Purim teaches us that good will win over evil, just like it did for Esther and the Jews of Persia. In the meantime, on Purim we laugh at ourselves and have fun.
This year, Congregation Emeth’s Purimshpiel will be performed by the EDK players, the teens in our youth program who are putting together the carnival, running the games, and working hard to provide a fun evening for all of us. All proceeds from the Purim carnival will benefit youth programs, so the camaraderie can continue after Purim is over! I hope you’ll be there and really hope you’ll be in costume!
(Purim takes place Saturday night and Sunday; Congregation Emeth’s Purim celebration precedes an abbreviated Shabbat Service Friday evening. See announcements for complete details!)
May this be a week of blessings, happiness, and laughter,
and a Shabbat of peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel