When I was a kid, Purim was a holiday not to be missed.
The megillah reading at Temple Israel in Great Neck was a spectacle. The synagogue was raucous, for a change. The kids were happy to be invited to make as much noise as we could to blot out Haman’s name. Rabbi Waxman wielded a grogger so large it could have crushed that villan. We got to stay up late, no matter if it was a school night, and eat Hamantaschen and candy until our stomachs ached.
This was the 1980s, long before the Disney princess marketing explosion, so we little girls made our own costumes in honor of Queen Esther. Why would you want to be anyone else? Of course my brother was more partial to the male roles… My mom made us crowns out of cereal boxes covered in aluminum foil and beards out of poster board and cotton balls and, for that night, we were Jewish royalty.
Then came the Purim Carnival at the Hebrew High School which was housed in its own building known as The Youth House. The teens put on a great party that day. As a young child, I remember I always wanted to play whatever game could win me a live goldfish to carry home in a plastic bag. As a teen, I remember the fun-filled frenzy of working the balloon shaving station or the room where people traded paper tickets with drawings of hotdogs and hamantaschen in for food.
While the details of these memories are fuzzy now, the spirit of the holiday is still strong. As I sit in my house embraced by the smell of fresh Hamantaschen, looking through photos of my new family – who never miss an opportunity to play dress up – I look forward to this week, and to the day when Cora will look forward to this holiday we used to call Jewish Halloween.