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Purim in Seattle

How to celebrate Purim around Seattle this year

'It's a really fun, happy time'; outdoor and virtual festivities open to all.

On Purim (Thursday, Feb. 25, until Friday, Feb. 26, in 2021), 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. This year, the celebrations will be adapted to follow current COVID-19 precautions.

The lively events, both outdoors and virtual, 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.”

“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 hamantaschen, triangle-shaped cookies with sweet fillings symbolizing the three-cornered hat that Haman wore. “We give baskets to our neighbors full of hamantaschen, nuts, and decorative noisemakers,” said Rabbi Speizer. “It’s a really fun, happy time.” 

Looking for Purim food? Blazing Bagels is taking hamantaschen orders online for pickup at its Seattle and Eastside locations, while Zylberschtein’s Delicatessen & Bakery in the Pinehurst neighborhood in North Seattle is taking orders for hamantaschen as well as for a special Purim dinner.

There are many fun ways to celebrate all across the city in 2021, even if you don’t belong to a synagogue:

Purim Family Scavenger Hunt around Mercer Island with SJCC

Sunday, Feb. 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island
All ages
Join the Stroum Jewish Community Center for a Purim-themed scavenger hunt around Mercer Island! Load up the family car and explore Mercer Island’s amazing parks and public spaces while learning the story of Purim. The first clue will be released on the SJCC Facebook page at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28, which will lead you on an adventure! Each of the eight clues will include the next portion of Queen Esther’s heroic act that saved the Jews from the evil Haman. The hunt ends with hamantaschen and prizes for the whole family! Pre-registration required. Tickets: $7.50.

Purim tailgate party

Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m.
Lower parking lot of Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle
All ages
You can join Chabad of NW Seattle for an all-ages celebration of Purim! The tailgate event will feature a Megillah reading, food boxes, and a sports teams masquerade contest. Pre-registration is required for this event. Free event.

Outdoor Purim Celebration

Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:15 p.m.
Seattle Hebrew Academy, 1617 Interlaken Drive E., Seattle
All ages
Join Chabad of Capitol Hill and the Central District at the Purim Celebration 2021! Come out and celebrate at the outdoor Purim celebration! In the event of bad weather, the event will be indoors, at the same location. All COVID restrictions will be enforced. Masks required, limited socially distant seating. Registration is required. Listen to the Megillah, which tells the story of the holiday, enjoy individually packed foods and an individually prepared craft for kids. Have a Lechaim! Dress up! If you have any questions, feel free to email chabadcapitolhill@gmail.com. Free event.

Virtual costume dance party

Thursday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m.
Virtual event
Age recommendation: Babies and toddlers, preschoolers, school kids (K-5)
Kol Haneshamah of Seattle presents a Kids Purim Costume Dance Party! Families can celebrate Purim at home, and share their costumes with the rest of the community, too. Zoom Meeting ID: 897 6822 0901 Passcode: DANCE. Free event.

This story was first published on March 1, 2017. 

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