The joyous Jewish holiday of Purim spreads great food, fun costumes and general merriment across Plainview this weekend.
Purim is a celebration of an ancient love story of a king and his pretty wife and a nasty dude named Haman. Unlike the bad guy in Harry Potter, whose name you can't speak, The mere mention of Haman's name evokes loud screams from kids in costumes. It's just part of a party that dates to the 4th Century BCE which begins at sundown Saturday.
For the uninitiated, Purim means wonderful food, charity and story telling. Local synagogues are presenting Purim spiels, those humorous plays acted out by participants in costume. And, if you've never tried hamantashen (you just haven't lived!) don't miss this opportunity to taste the three-cornered "ears of Haman."
The back story of Purim (found in The Tanakh, or Old Testament Book of Esther) goes like this: The lonely King Ahasuerus of Persia decided it was time to get married (again.) He ordered his servants to bring him all the beautiful girls in the region so he could choose one. (Mel Brooks said it best: "It's good to be the king.") The king decided on Esther, although he didn't know she was Jewish.
The king's top servant was Haman, sort of a royal chief of staff, the H.R. Haldeman of Persia. All the king's servants were forced to bow down to him. Esther's cousin Mordecai , who raised her, refused to belittle himself before Haman. The villain decided that Mordecai and all the Jewish people would be forced to pay for their disobedience with their lives.
Mordecai told Esther of the pending catastrophe. The queen found the courage to go to her husband and tell him her secret.
Ahashverus told Esther he loved her dearly, and he would never let harm come to the Jewish people. Haman went to the gallows he had made for Mordecai. A battle followed and the Jews were victorious.
So Purim celebrates Esther as a savior of the Jewish people. Presents are exchanged and the party is on. And each time Haman's name is mentioned, everyone makes a lot of noise to blot out his name and celebrate his demise. Many local congregations have been preparing for Purim all month. The Y JCC has been collecting used costumes for the needy.
So... Chag Semeach Purim! Here's your guide to local Purim celebrations:
Mid-Island Y - JCC: Purim Parade:
Enjoy refreshments, game booths, water rides and a costume parade Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at the Y-JCC. There will be information about summer camp discounts at the carnival.
Temple Chaverim: Carnival
The holds its carnival on Saturday from 4-8:30 p.m. There is a brief Purim service at 6 p.m., followed by "Purim Spiel "Guys and Schmaltz" at 6:30 p.m.. The congregation, at 1050 Washington Ave., encourages everyone to come in costume and prepared to get "silly." The event is free and open to all.
Temple Beth Elohim: Purim Extravaganza
The Temple Beth Elohim's "Purim Extravaganza" features a full creative Purim Spiel production and live music on Saturday from 6-8 p.m. The festivities followa short worship service in the sanctuary. Prizes for best costumes will be given out in several different categories. Festive oneg to follow including surprise treats and hamantashen. Open to all; free.
Manetto Hill Jewish Center: Megillah Reading
The center will conduct the traditional Megillah reading at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. the Megillah is the term for the biblical narrative of the Book of Esther.
Plainview Jewish Center: Carnival
Purim festivities kick off Saturday with an abridged Megillah reading and Spiel. A full Megillah reading follows at 8. An ice cream social leads into the Purim carnival, with game booths. Come in Costume and bring kosher canned goods.