Purim begins tonight, and even the most Orthodox of Jews are supposed to go a little nuts.
Though it fits the usual template of Jewish holidays (famously described as, “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat”), it’s one of the rare times on the Jewish calendar when you’re supposed to get stupidly, staggeringly drunk.
Seriously. It’s in the Talmud: “A man is obliged to intoxicate himself on Purim, till he cannot distinguish between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordecai’” (Megilla, Chapter I).
Scholars have tried to tone this down as we’ve gotten more civilized over the centuries, and now the festivities are mainly aimed at kids. But it’s still basically a party holiday. Witness a few of the events in and around Philadelphia, starting this evening:
Adath Israel in Merion is having a Purim Palooza! Details for this event are scant, but the title suggests what distinguishes this from other holidays. It’s not as if Jews hold Yummy-Yummy-Yom Kippur break-fasts or celebrate the New Year on Rosh-a-Rama.
Temples such as Temple Bath Zion-Beth Israel on South 18th Street in Philly already had a carnival last Sunday, and are still holding costume parties tonight. This makes Purim even more akin to St. Patrick’s Day, in that it tends to expand beyond its designated day.
And Chabad of the Main Line (also in Merion) is holding Purim in the Jungle tomorrow. Congregants are supposed to dress up in some kind of jungle costume. Dinner is kosher Tex-Mex barbecue from Smokey Joe’s in Teaneck. And the entertainment will be the Jabali Acrobats, an African troupe seen here performing at halftime during a Detroit Pistons game.
Please note: This is a theme party for a holiday that already is a theme party.
Or you can just celebrate the old-fashioned way – the really old-fashioned way. Head down to Oh! Shea’s on Sansom Street and get hammered.