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Misehnichnas Adar! “When Adar comes in, rejoicing is increased!” (Taanit 29a)
What is Adar, and why should we increase our joy for it? Adar is the 6th month of the Hebrew calendar when counting from Rosh Hashanah. Adar is the most joyful month of the year, hosting our most raucous and carnival-like holiday–PURIM! Who can resist the call to blot out Haman’s name with a grogger when reading Megillat Esther (Book of Esther); or the hamantashen filled with poppyseed, apricot, or (fill in your favorite flavor here); or the fun of dressing up for an atmosphere of sanctioned frivolity? For cantors, musical traditions abound for Purim. Music is part and parcel of creating a joyous and ridiculous evening. There is no set musical mode for Purim except to draw musical inspiration from absolutely EVERYWHERE!
The Purim shpiel, too, adds to the entertainment for the evening. Since the 15th century, if not earlier, mocking performances of the Book of Esther and biblical themes were performed in the vernacular at Purim celebrations in homes and theaters, much to the delight of Jews everywhere. These performances led to the creation of traveling shows–vaudeville–which led to the creation of Yiddish theater.
Each year at Washington Hebrew, we choose a different theme to celebrate Purim. Over the years, we have traveled to the ‘60s with our Beatles theme, we dined at the Mall Food Court during our ‘80s theme, we ate BBQ at the State Fair for “Country Fried Purim,” and you voted and we announced our WHC Academy Award winners at our Oscars Purim. And who can forget our Big Fat Purim Wedding? Each year, our communications department has outdone itself, creating clergy cartoon characters specific to each theme. So, would this finally be the year to do it?
“Do what?” you may be asking.
Well, ABBA, of course. What would it take to do ABBA just right?
Multiple voices. Check. With myself, two student cantors, three rabbis, and all of you, we can do it.
A band. Check. With our Macomb St. Shabbat musicians, we have that covered.
A disco ball. Hmm… That we don’t have, but perhaps there is a way? How hard could it be to hang a disco ball from the ceiling of Kaufmann Sanctuary? I’ll talk to Mohan, our Director of Maintenance.
Disco ball covered! Yes, this is finally the year that –
Vashti will be Under Attack!
Mamma Mia, King Ahasuerus can’t live without love, and Esther begs him to Take a Chance on her!
Mordy, Mordy completely annoys Haman!
And Mordechai sends out an S.O.S. to save the king from an awful plot!
These and more ABBA favorites will be the backdrop to the Purim story. But then what? If you know Washington Hebrew, you know we don’t stop when the service ends!
Our team is making up for Covid interrupting our Purim celebrations, and the ABBA/‘70s theme will continue at our oneg that includes a roller rink (yes, you read that right!), Pong, pinball, and more in Edlavitch Hall. So let’s get out our tambourines and become a Dancing Queen that would make Vashti proud!
I promise to save a poppyseed hamantashen for you!
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