Is Purim a Good Jewish Holiday for Non-Jewish Loved Ones?
I’ve been asked about Purim as a “first” Jewish experience for non-Jewish loved ones. Purim is a two faced holiday. The dark side and the light side. Learn about both of them and help your partner or in-laws to see the many layers. A good place to start is at My Jewish Learning.
Not every holiday is right for every person getting to know Judaism. Purim is a rather complicated holiday. We as adults learn the words of the Esther scroll and it is pretty dark. There is NO MENTION of God at all. A lot of people die. On the other hand, Purim is often sweetened up for children. Costumes, candy, a silly play – all make Purim child-friendly.
What to DO for Purim? Every synagogue will offer a Purim Shpiel, a reading or reenactment of the Purim story. Often the shpiel has a modern theme to it like, Harry Potter, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, or some topic currently in the media. These can be a lot of fun for all. I think a silly Purim play is a great first experience of Judaism.
The Purim Carnival
I always thought the carnival was also a good way to experience a Jewish holiday. But a couple contacted me after going to a new synagogue for the very first time for a carnival. As you can imagine the event was loud, crazy, full of people and children playing games. There was no way to get to know a new person in the chaos. So, don’t go to make new friends and connections. Go to a carnival to experience a CARNIVAL! If you want to meet people at a shul you’re better off going to a Shabbat service or a speaker or a musical program.
(If you’re looking at a particular synagogue, let me know. I can hook you up with a member who can introduce you around.)
The quintessential Ashkenazi Purim food is hamentashen. They are filled cookies. Look here for some good recipes. Do try one or three!
All “stuffed” foods are great for a Purim meal. Check out these feast-able options from blogger and recipe developer, Faith Kramer, author of 52 Shabbats.