Purim is the Jewish calendar’s biggest party – a night to get dressed up in awesome costumes, hear the story of Esther (and make lots of noise with a grogger when you hear Haman’s name), eat a bunch of jam-filled pastries called hamentaschen, then get your party on. Every year Jewish communities across the country celebrate the holiday by throwing soirees and staging purim spiels – funny plays meant to put everyone in a happy mood.
But just below the festive surface, Purim is also a holiday that’s all about service. The day includes two specific obligations of direct service: mishloach manot (giving gifts of food to friends) and matanot l’evyonim (giving monetary gifts to the poor). The reasoning? To make sure that everyone’s needs are taken care of on such a festive holiday, and to strengthen community bonds.
To get you into the spirit of Purim this year, we rounded up a bunch of parties and other fun Purim events that will let you celebrate while making a difference:
- Feb 15th, Little Neck, NY: Join friends old and new at the Samuel Field Y for their Pack it Up for Purim winter food drive. Bring non-perishable foods to share, and volunteer to deliver them to participating food pantries.
- Feb 17, Detroit: Rock out with Moishe House Detroit for an evening of Purim crafting, hamantashen baking, and mishloach manot creating for the local Ronald McDonald house.
- Feb 21, Berkeley: Want to make a sustainable mask for your Purim party? Join textile artist Inbal Shalev in making gorgeous masks out of recycled materials.
- Feb 23, NYC: Hang out with friends, rock out to the awesome band, Yiddish Princess, watch some extravagant theatre and learn about social issues that are important to NYC at the annual JFREJ Purimshpiel.
- Feb 23, Boston: Join the Workmen’s Circle for their 6th annual Radical Purim Party featuring lots of hamantashen, dancing, and political theater to get the party going right.
- Feb 23, Los Angeles: Get dressed up and head out to IKAR’s Purim Justice Carnival, which melds the religions and political, the spiritual and the social.
- Feb 24, Chicago: After a night of partying, join Moishe House Chicago in preparing mishloach manot for Lydia Home, a community shelter where the residents volunteer every month.
We suspect that we missed a LOT of awesome service and social-justice themed Purim parties out there. Know of one in your neighborhood? Tell us about it in the comments below, or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.