On Purim weekend (March 10-12) Jewish families all over the Seattle area will dress up in costumes, make traditional treats, read from the Megillah (the story of Esther) and watch a funny and interactive shpiel (play) that tells the holiday’s origin story. The lively events are open to anyone and provide a fun opportunity for kids to celebrate and learn about Jewish history and culture.
Although there are many variations on the Purim story, the basics are as follows: Esther was a Jewish woman in ancient Persia raised by her Uncle Mordecai. The villain of the story is Haman, an adviser to King Ahasuerus who has a wicked plan to kill all of the Jews. Esther conceals her Jewish identity and is chosen by the King to be his new Queen. With Mordecai’s encouragement, Esther bravely reveals to the King that she is Jewish and asks him to save her people from Haman’s evil plot. The King respects Esther’s wishes and the Jews are saved.
Rabbi Jaclyn Cohen, who serves Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle, says that the Purim story is accessible to all families, regardless of religious background. “Everyone can relate to the message of Purim,” Rabbi Cohen says. “There are times in our lives that we aren’t in a position of power, but we can still rise above and prevail.”
The theme of the shpiel this year at Temple De Hirsch will be the Wizard of Oz. “We wear costumes to make the holiday fun, but also as a way to remember Esther’s decision to conceal her identity,” said Rabbi Cohen. “Esther hid herself, and it ended up being a tool for power.”
Rabbi Kate Speizer, Adult Engagement & Endless Opportunities Coordinator at Temple De Hirsch, and her two young children participate in the Purim tradition of mishloach manot, giving gifts of food to friends and participating in community service projects. Her family makes hamantashen, triangle-shaped cookies with sweet fillings symbolizing the three-cornered hat that Haman wore. “We give baskets to our neighbors full of hamantashen, nuts, and decorative noisemakers,” said Rabbi Speizer. “It’s a really fun, happy time.”
There are many fun ways to celebrate all across the city, even if you don’t belong to a synagogue:
909 E Union St., Seattle
Adults can enjoy the brewery’s libations while costumed kids join a Purim-themed sing-along and storytime in the play area.
Hamantashen Make and Take March 10, 1-1:45 pm; Presented by Stroum Jewish Community Center at University House for Senior Living, 22975 SE Black Nugget Rd., Issaquah; suggested donation $5
Make hamantashen with some of the senior citizen residents of University House while enjoying the Purim story and songs.
Game of Cohens Purim Shpiel March 11, 7-9:30 pm; Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation, 3700 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island
Herzl-Ner Tamid hosts a family-friendly Game of Thrones-themed shpiel, featuring a live band, what promise to be good costumes and shots of schnapps for grown-ups. (Traditionally, Jewish adults are obligated to drink on Purim until they do not know the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai”). Adults, kids and “dragons of all ages” are welcome.
Super Purim Carnival March 12, 11 am-2 pm; Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E Mercer Way, Mercer Island
Dress up like your favorite superhero and bring your graggers (noisemakers) for a superhero-themed Purim party, featuring carnival games, art activities, a bouncy house, rides, and more.