Yes — it’s time for Purim! Who doesn’t love Purim? They tried to kill us, they failed, we kicked their @$$ to the 7th generation — LET’S PARTY!!!!
Over on my own site, I waxed poetic (and ritual) about the hamantaschen. Over at , you can find some great hamantaschen recipe. Here at PunkTorah — I want to talk Purim Shpiel. Next to Passover, Purim is one of our most accessible and fun holidays and like Passover, it’s also serious. The Purim Shpiel is the tradition of doing a humorous play that mocks our enemies. Jews do love comedy, after all.
For years, I threw a killer Purim Shpiel at my house. I just called it a Purim party — but it was all the same. It’s amazing how awesome a party where everyone gets lit and acts out the bible while I read it can be. It was also always a huge opportunity for learning. I always read the JPS translation — and all the way through.
When we hit the end one year, my sister started to yell that I was making up the part where we slaughter Haman’s extended family. She didn’t remember that from Purim as a child. A HUGE debate ensued about this and whether or not they actually read the whole Megillah at our childhood synagogue and how this changed our impression of the holiday.
But seriously — when can you read the bible to people without seeming creepy? It’s awesome!
Here’s how I do it. I have some props that are for each main character and either asked friends who wanted to be whom, or in the true spirit of Purim, had them draw lots for parts. If people were unfamiliar with the characters, I would do a quick explanation. Everyone who didn’t play a part, had groggers and other noise makers — plus they got to drink.
Then I just start reading, and my friends act out any interpretation of what I’m saying they like. I can assure you, we had some fascinating interpretations going. I remember a prissy, pissy french Haman. One time it turned out the hidden story was that Haman was jealous of Vashti’s awesome gold/velvet stole. And well, Esther bowing before the King’s “golden scepter” lead to a not so family friendly interpretation of how Esther saved her people….
This year — invite your friends over and read the bible to them. Read the whole Megillah — word for word. Drink — you are obligated by Jewish law to eat, drink and be merry. Seriously — this is the only holiday where you are obligated to have fun. Take the opportunity to see what you can learn from the reveling and topsy-turvy experience of Purim.
Ketzirah is a Kohenet, Celebrant, and Artist. She works with individuals and groups to explore, discover, and create meaningful rituals and ritual artwork to mark moments in life.