Be Happy! It’s Adar! But why?

FullSizeRender (3)Purim is a joyous, chaotic and raucous holiday. In this Jewish leap year, there are two months of Adar (I and II) and we celebrate Purim in Adar II. This year that will be in late March. Even in leap years, Purim is followed one month later by Passover (they both occur on the full moon).

Purim is a harbinger of spring. Like spring holidays celebrated in other cultures and religions–the Hindu celebration of HoliCarnivale in Brazil and the Caribbean and Mardi Gras in New Orleans for examples–the elation over the departure of winter and the rebirth of the Earth is intoxicating. And Purim is clearly a holiday to be observed in the millennium, where identifying the difference between good and evil is at times totally challenging.

So MARK YOUR CALENDARS!  The AARC brings you a smorgasbord of preparatory events leading up to our Purim observance, which will culminate with Rabbi Michael Strassfeld joining us for the 4th Friday in March.  Stay tuned for RSVP details!

  • Throughout March:
    • costume and mask consultations
    • preparing Shalach Manot — the gifts of Purim
  • March 19–  Lessurbert Annual Cookie Baking (read hamantaschen) and pizza baking
  • March 25–  4th Friday Service and Potluck unveiling the beautiful, whole megillah for the whole family and dinner theater Purim Spiel. (Tot shabbat prior to the service)
  • March 26– Mincha service and learning with Rabbi Michael
This image and the one above are decorative sections from the Megillat Esther/Scroll of Esther used by AARC courtesy of Barbara Boyk Rust and Evelyn Neuhaus

This image and the one above are decorative sections from the Megillat Esther/Scroll of Esther used by AARC courtesy of Barbara Boyk Rust and Idelle Hammond-Sass

Have an idea of how to add to the fun? Contact Dina Kurz [] (on behalf of the Purim Planning Committee) if you want to add an event (such as baking, costume or mask workshop, sangria making, etc.) to increase the merriment in advance of March 25.

Links to Purim last year here and here.


Let’s Make a Shpiel Recap

Photos and text by Sherri Buroker
Making Purim crafts

Making Purim crafts

Showing off our crowns

Showing off our crowns

Purim joy was evident among AARC members and guests this past Sunday, March 1.

The celebration kicked off with the kids creating groggers, crowns fit for the finest queens and kings, and mini candy Megillahs!

The Beit Sefer classes challenged the entire party with their inventive and original games “Hamantaschen to Hamantaschen” and “Purim Jeopardy,” and the adult “Purim Shpiel” lifted the room in laughter!

Our feast (by Exotic Syrian Bakery) was delicious, our homemade hamantaschen were delectable, and our costumes transformed the party into a colorful display!

Mike displays the feast

Mike displays the feast

As the Megillah was read amid the community, we did not disappoint with our hooting and hollering!

Reading the megillah

Reading the megillah

Along with all these elements, I believe our best Purim spirit was inspired by our energetic cheer”leader,” Rav Michal, and simply witnessing the kids celebrating together.

Purim games

Rav Michal cheering on the kids



A Purim Vocabulary


queen esther“The whole megillah.” When my daughters come up with words I don’t recognize, my first resource is Urban Dictionary. Very informative. And yep, “whole megillah” is there, one of the many Yiddish or Hebrew inspired phrases that have become bonafide street English. The whole megillah means “something long, complex, and possibly tedious,” as in when Jews read the Megillah Esther (Scroll of Esther) from beginning to end, all ten chapters, with breaks for hooting and hollering, each Purim. And yes, AARC is going to read the whole megillah this year….well almost. Because of the age-old “tedium” problem, there are many abridged, English language, family-friendlier, megillot to choose from. But you can still expect all ten chapters.

“Shpiel.”I won’t even go into the Urban Dictionary definition; shpiel is simply a play or story. It’s traditional for congregations to stage and enjoy purimshpiels (Purim Plays) that riff on characters and themes from the Scroll of Esther. This year, we will intersperse our shpiel with our megillah reading. Just for fun….and to break up the tedium.

“Hamantaschen.” Those triangular pastries intended to remind us of the villain Haman’s hat. The whole community, especially the kids, is invited to Carol Lessure’s home to bake hamantaschen Saturday afternoon, February 28, 2015 from 3:00ish – 6:00ish.  She is happy to have you drop in for part or stay for a potluck dinner (Havdalah too) after cookie baking is done.  Bring your rolling pin, cookie sheet and a snack, drink or side dish to share.

And the feast or Seudah, in Hebrew. There are four feasts in the Megillah Esther, but we’ll be having only one. We need to know how much to order, so please RSVP using this link.

When’s it all happening? March 1, 11:30-2 at the JCC, of course.

Oh, that picture at the top was just to get your attention. I used it for a cover of Bridges Journal in 1993, with this description: This image is of Queen Esther giving birth to Kurush (Cyrus the Great), her son by Shah Ardashir (Ahasuerus). The painting, by an unknown artist, is an illustration from a late seventeenth century edition of an epic poem, Ardashir Ndma (The Ahasuerus Book), written in 1332 by Jewish-Persian poet Maulana Shahin. Iranian Jews often used the Hebrew alphabet even while writing in the Persian language as a way of preserving their religious and national heritage. They shared the cultural tastes of their Muslim neighbors, using Persian literary and artistic styles in setting to verse and illustrating some well-known Jewish themes, including even the Torah. Ardashir Ndma is the story of the Book of Esther and continues with Esther and Ahasueras’ life together, with embellishments from Jewish and Muslim legends, Talmudic and Midrashic references, and Persian fairy tales. The whole megillah plus more!