Jewish community celebrates Purim

Mar. 16, 2014 @ 05:08 PM

“What color would you like?” Rabbi Zalman Bluming asked a group of children, many in costume.

He wore clown-like shoes, a multi-colored wig and hat.

Standing outside of the Lerner Jewish Community Day School on Sunday, Bluming handed out balloons from a colorful bouquet and greeted families as they entered the school to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.

“I’m excited about being joyous today because Purim is a very happy holiday, because it’s about the victory of the Jewish people,” said 9-year-old Chaya Bluming, who had a balloon tied to her wrist. “I’m looking forward to having a blast.”

The holiday celebrates events told in the Book of Esther of how Jews were saved from a murderous plot by Haman, an anti-Semitic adviser to the king of the ancient Persian empire.

The Chabad of Durham & Chapel Hill put on a celebration for the community to mark the holiday, which started Saturday night and ended Sunday.

Activities Sunday afternoon included a costume contest for children, pony rides, music, food and performances.

It’s a time to be silly and upbeat, said Adam Singer of Chapel Hill, who came to the celebration with his two daughters.

It’s about celebrating how the Jewish people faced death, but averted it, and then celebrated. He said he has fond memories of dressing up in costume as a child.

At the event on Sunday, children were dressed up as – among other things - princesses, superheroes and animals.

Plates of traditional hamantash cookies, which are three-cornered, filled pastries, were set on a table by the door, and other food was set out on a table inside the door. Children received coins as they came in to put in jars to give to the poor.

Music played in the background as children cavorted and parents talked.

For Daphna Dayan, the celebration was a good way to find holiday spirit while far away from home. She said her family moved to the Untied States three years ago from Israel. Her two children wore costumes: 1-year-old Ethan was dressed as a dragon, and 4-year-old Michael was dressed as a dinosaur.

“It is part of the great Jewish tradition,” said Matt Prastein of Durham, who was there with his family. The Jews triumphed by serving themselves and others, he said.

An essential part of the celebration involves exchanging gifts and giving to charity, he said.

“It’s good, it’s great to see so many people enjoying themselves,” he said.