Celebrate Purim with costumes and hamentashen

March 15, 2011

By Laura Geggel

At the mention of Haman’s name, children and adults spin noisemakers, called graggers, and boo.

Purim “is the most fun, the loudest and the most exciting of all the Jewish holidays,” said Seth Basker, of Issaquah.

Chabad Executive Director Rabbi Berry Farkash celebrated a Hawaiian-themed Purim with the community last year. Contributed

The Chabad of the Central Cascades invites the community to celebrate the ninth annual Purim party, held this year with a Persian theme. Every year, Chabad celebrates Purim using the backdrop of a different country. In the past, Chabad has celebrated Purim in Israel, Asia, Hawaii and Mexico — all from the confines of Blakely Hall.

“Every year, we do a twist to get the community involved,” Chabad Executive Director Rabbi Berry Farkash said.

In honor of the Persian theme, Chabad will host several Persian activities, including carpet-weaving demonstrations, henna artists and live music from the band Musica Pharsia. People can snack on a buffet of Persian food, such as Persian steamed white rice, a Persian meat stew called chelo with okra khoresh and Persian pitas with hummus.

Farkash will begin the Purim party by reading from the Megillah, the scroll that tells the narrative of Esther.

The story recounts how Esther marries King Ahasuerus. The king’s prime minister, Haman, decides to kill all Jews when Esther’s cousin and foster parent, Mordechai, refuses to bow down to him.

Not knowing that his wife is Jewish, the king agrees with Haman’s plan. Esther heroically tells her husband that if he allows the Jews to be killed, he will have to kill her, too, because she is Jewish.

The story has a few twists and turns — Mordechai saves the king’s life — and in the end, the king hangs Haman and the Jews are allowed to defend themselves against the attacks. Mordechai assumes the job of prime minister and commemorates the events for the Purim holiday.

The moral of the story is “oppression doesn’t work,” Farkash said.

While Chanukah is a spiritual festival of light, Farkash compared Purim to a celebration of the body, with people dancing and eating. Children typically dress up — like Halloween, but without the gloom.

“The costumes are usually characters from the Bible,” Basker said. “They dress up as the heroes and heroines.”

Chabad will have a costume contest both for children and adults, and the best costume wins no matter the character.

Shira Puterman, a 14-year-old from Issaquah, said she planned to be Minnie Mouse and have fun with her friends. Her father, Jeff Puterman, said he would go with her.

“It’s a way to connect with your traditions,” he said. “It reminds you of the history and the victory. And there’s very good food.”

Partygoers can nosh on hamentashen, triangle shaped cookies filled with jelly that celebrate the victory of Purim.

“I’ve always brought my kids to Purim,” Basker said. “Children, they look forward to it. Where else do you get to dress up and scream and make noise and the parents think it’s cool?”

If you go

Purim in Persia

  • 4 p.m. March 20
  • Blakely Hall, 2550 N.E. Park Drive
  • RSVP at www.chabadissaquah.com
  • Get tickets online: Children (ages 3-12) $10; adults $18

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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