Purim is the rockingest of Jewish holidays. For one thing it’s the only one with a commandment to get drunk — or as Rabbi Steve Kushner of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield puts it: “There’s a mitzvah of getting so drunk you can’t tell the difference between the phrase ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.'” Slivovitz, a 100 proof plum brandy, is the Purim drink of choice. Please don’t tell the Irish, who are stocking up for their little holiday this time of year too. We don’t want to run out.
Of course, everybody knows about the triangular treat known as Hamantaschen, and for kids there are carnivals. Noisemakers are not only allowed in synagogue, they’re required. And everybody dresses up.
But the real delight of the holiday — for grownups, anyway — is the annual Purim Spiel, a musical and often ribald send-up of the Queen Esther story. This year’s spiel at Ner Tamid is especially naughty. It features one dance number with nooses and full face masks (“Jews Just Want to be Hung” to the tune of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”) and another with a straight-laced Hasidic schoolteacher, who’s wearing something a lot more provocative underneath. (“I Kissed a Goy” to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.”) The show is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Ner Tamid, 936 Broad St., Bloomfield. Admission is a noisy box of pasta, to use as a noisemaker during the show, and to be donated to a food pantry afterwards. Donations of $10 for adults and $5 for children are also requested.
Bnai Keshet’s spiel, which takes place Wednesday night, right after the megillah reading, apparently also has some interesting content. “The evening starts out as ‘G-rated’ for adults and children of all ages. As the evening progresses, the shpiel becomes more ‘PG,'” they advise. Activities for kids start at 4 p.m., for adults at 7 p.m. 99 S. Fullerton Ave., Montclair.
The festival of Purim, by the way, starts Wednesday night — with megillah readings at synagogues everywhere.
So is Purim the Jewish St. Patrick’s Day as this Slivovitz lover argues? Or the Jewish Halloween, because of the costumes? Kushner argues that, with Passover just down the road, it’s closer in spirit to Mardi Gras.”It’s an end-of-winter celebration. The world needs an excuse to go crazy.”
Look for more kid-friendly Purim listings on Barista Kids. And here’s that risque number with the schoolteacher…