Our family is an interfaith one. I also happened to grow up in an interfaith family. I am probably one of those “Secular Jew” statistics, as far as my level of temple involvement, etc… The thing is, I want to be Jewish. I want to feel connected to my religion and I want to find more fun ways to celebrate the holidays and traditions. Purim is a fabulous way to do just that.
Now from what I remember, as a child, Purim was a holiday where you eat hamantaschen and make a lot of noise in the synagogue. You could dress up as a character from the story of Esther, but it wasn’t required. As I’ve found out, in reconnecting with my Jewish roots, there is a lot more fun to be had with this holiday. In the last few years, I’ve seen The Beatles and Star Wars themed Purim festivals and services, a step (or a few steps) above the old, dress up as a princess or old man options I had as a child. There is still a rowdy atmosphere with groggers (noise makers) aplenty, but with a welcomed, more adult enhancement. Alcohol. Lots of it.
It’s traditional during Purim that you boo and make lots of noise every time you hear “Haman”, the name of the evil character in the Purim story. What I never knew as a child is that it is a mitzvah to get SO drunk, you can’t tell the difference between, “God bless Mordechai” and “Down with Haman”. Now, you don’t have to drink to have a great time, but let me tell you, getting rowdy and making a ton of crazy noise in the pews is way more fun, and a lot more awesome when people are passing jello shots down the aisles. Even my Catholic reared husband thinks Purim is the bomb.
The essence of Purim is one of shedding your secular image and being proud to identify yourself as a Jew, as Esther did. So, let me encourage you, if it’s been awhile since you’ve been to temple, if you have been on the fence about when to go poke your head in, go celebrate Purim this year. It even falls on a Saturday night! (March 15) It’s never too late to reconnect with your roots and party like your ancestors did: hard. On Purim.
May the Schwartz be with you.