‘Berg Hillel parties for Purim

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Photo courtesy of April Cunningham | students dancing and celebrating Purim

The Jewish holiday of Purim is a story about the tyrannical attempted persecution of the Jewish people by a Persian king’s main chief Haman. Upon hearing about the upcoming attack on her people, the Jewish queen, Esther, would come to defend them. In a masterful move she invites the king and his chief to a series of dinner parties and (when the king is good and drunk) exposes the evilness of Haman, saving her people. 

Purim is meant to celebrate her bravery, and insistence on doing what is right despite intimidating consequences. “It’s sort of like the Jewish Halloween,” explained Alexa Singman ‘22, “but the story is the most important part, especially when [you’re] little.” It combines a very inspirational moral with the enjoyableness of costumes, candy and family.

For the Purim celebrations, the Shabbat dining room at the Leffell Center for Jewish Student Life had been transformed into a classic school dance. The room was dark with neon lights and bright decorations with a photo backdrop in front of a large camera. The DJ played pop songs, flanked by tables full of bagel bites, candies, gift bags and yummy hamantaschen cookies, which established a sort of carnival atmosphere. Hillel Israel co-chair Eitan Gitlin ‘25 recommended party-goers try the mock pina colada (made with the DJ, Sam Brown ‘23), which he graciously poured into Solo Cups.

There were a couple of groups gathered on the dance floor, gleefully singing with the music, and one or two seated at the tables. Everyone seemed to be at ease, and there were no dark lonely corners. Most people mingled, asking about majors, midterms and end-of-March plans. Plenty of people were willing to talk about the holiday, and what it meant for them.

Singman, Danielle Azuolay ‘22, and Sarah Teitelbaum ‘22 – practically yelling to converse over the music– each described their personal experiences with Purim. They talked a lot about how it is a time to get dressed up (especially when you’re little), enjoy sweet and savory pastries called hamantaschen and kreplach, and (when you’re older, perhaps) get so drunk that the villian and hero in the Jewish story cannot be distinguished. Overall, Purim seems to be something special for every family and every person. It is a time to gather with the people you love, strengthen each other and celebrate the gift of life. 

After the costume contestant winners were announced – Rachel Scheer ‘25, Hadas Seltzer ‘24, Ariana Handelman ‘25, Alyssa Kaplan ‘25, and Eli Coopersmith ‘23 – the student leaders began cleaning up their beautifully executed event. There were hugs, laughter, and over the noise, from a face among the crowd, proud sentiments about the success of the event for friends and leaders.

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