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Top 10 Ways To Celebrate Purim in NYC

Purim is a vibrant and joyous Jewish holiday celebrated by both adults and children around the world, commemorating a time of salvation, bravery, and the triumph of good over evil as told in the Book of Esther. This festive occasion, marked by customs such as costume wearing, the sharing of gifts, and public readings of the Megillah, invites participants into a historical narrative filled with intrigue, plot twists, and ultimate redemption.

Let’s dive into the fascinating history and traditions of Purim, where we’ll provide insights into its origins, the significance behind its most cherished customs, and ways to celebrate in New York City!

What is Purim?

Purim is a jubilant Jewish holiday that commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia, as recounted in the Book of Esther. This festive occasion marks the defeat of Haman, a royal advisor to King Ahasuerus, who plotted to destroy the Jewish community. Esther, the queen and a covert Jew, along with her cousin Mordecai, played pivotal roles in unmasking Haman’s plans to the king, leading to Haman’s downfall and the Jewish people’s victory. Celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, Purim is characterized by public readings of the Megillah (the Book of Esther), sharing gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and donning costumes. The holiday embodies themes of survival, the reversal of fortune, and the hidden miracles in everyday life, making it one of the most joyously observed holidays in the Jewish calendar.

Why Do People Dress Up for Purim?

The tradition of dressing up for Purim is steeped in the themes of the holiday, primarily the concept of hidden identities and reversals of fate, as vividly illustrated in the story of Esther. In the narrative, Esther conceals her Jewish identity to navigate the complexities of the Persian court, which is a key factor in the salvation of her people. This idea of disguise and transformation is echoed in the practice of wearing costumes during Purim, allowing participants to explore themes of mystery and revelation. Costumes can range from characters found in the Megillah, such as Esther, Mordecai, and Haman, to more contemporary figures from movies and pop culture, reflecting the enduring and adaptable spirit of the holiday. This custom adds an element of festivity and fun, encouraging both children and adults to engage creatively with the holiday’s themes, celebrating the joy of survival and the importance of identity.

Purim Celebration Traditions:

Listening to a Reading of the Megillah

Central to Purim is the public reading of the Book of Esther, also known as the Megillah, which recounts the story of Purim. It’s customary to listen to the Megillah being read once in the evening and again in the morning. During the reading, listeners use noisemakers called graggers to drown out the name of Haman, the villain of the story.

Giving Mishloach Manot (Gifts of Food)

One of the four mitzvot (commandments) associated with Purim is to send gifts of food to friends and family. These gifts usually consist of at least two different types of food that are ready to eat. This practice fosters community spirit and friendship.

Giving to Charity (Matanot La’evyonim)

Another mitzvah of Purim is giving charity to the poor. On Purim day, it’s a tradition to give money or food to at least two people in need. This act of kindness ensures that everyone can partake in the joyous Purim feast.

Preparing and Enjoying a Purim Seudah (Feast)

Celebrating Purim includes partaking in a festive meal known as a Seudah. This meal is often filled with joyous singing, storytelling, and the enjoyment of traditional Purim foods. It’s a time for communities and families to come together and celebrate the holiday’s joy.

Baking and Eating Hamantaschen

These triangle-shaped pastries are a Purim staple, symbolizing the defeat of Haman. Filled with a variety of sweet fillings like poppy seeds, jam, or chocolate, baking and sharing Hamantaschen is a beloved Purim tradition that brings families and friends together in the kitchen.

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Purim in NYC:

What better way to party in Purim style than in New York City? Here’s 10 fun filled events, from clubs and night life parties, to family-friendly gatherings and community get-togethers!

Mardi Gras Masquerade Purim Party at Temple Emanu-El

Embrace the fusion of Shushan’s celebrations and the French Quarter’s revelry with a live jazz trio, Creole cocktails, and a Megillah reading skit. Participants are encouraged to wear imaginative masks and costumes for this unique blend of cultures on March 23. The event is free for Temple Emanu-El members and includes both in-person and virtual options for the Megillah reading​

Purim Carnival at B’nai Jeshurun

Dive into the joy of Purim with a carnival, enjoy the creativity of a Purim spiel, come together for a Megillah reading, and participate in the mitzvah of sending mishloach manot. B’nai Jeshurun offers a unique experience to celebrate Purim with community and fun​

Purim Around the World with Kehillat Ashreynu in Astoria, Queens

Experience a multicultural celebration featuring portions of the Megillah read in various languages including Spanish, Russian, and Ladino. This event highlights the diversity within the Jewish community through art, history, and music. The celebration includes a happy hour and a party with tickets starting from $18​

Purim 7: From the Crown Down with Lab/Shul

Attend a prophetic and post-patriarchal Purim party at Bushwick’s House of Yes, featuring a ritual theater experience, performances, and a dance party. This event promises a unique interpretation of the Purim story through ancient and modern myths, starting at $55​

2024 Annual Purim Carnival at Kings Bay Y

For families looking to celebrate Purim with their kids, the Kings Bay Y’s Purim Carnival offers a day of fun with inflatable rides, live performances, and raffles. It’s a fantastic way for the whole family to engage in the Purim festivities​

Rubach Family Purim Celebration

Held at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, NJ, this event on March 17 offers a fun-filled afternoon with huge inflatables, slides, games, prizes, and snacks. It’s a great option for those willing to venture slightly outside NYC for a community-focused celebration​​.

92nd Street Y Purim Event

The 92nd Street Y is hosting a special event that includes a costume parade, mask making, hamantaschen, and a festive meal with wine for parents. It’s a great opportunity for families to bring the Purim story to life through creative and engaging activities​

Emanu-El Downtown: Big Top Purim

Experience the joy of Purim with a circus-themed celebration, including a performance by ABCirque, storytelling by rabbis and clowns, a feast, and the chance to participate in mitzvah projects. This event promises fun for the whole family with plenty of activities and gifts​

Commonpoint Queens Purim Carnival

Kick winter to the curb with inflatable rides, obstacle courses, arts and crafts, games, and food at Commonpoint Queens in Forest Hills. This carnival also offers a chance to learn about summer camp and early childhood programs, along with participating in a spring food drive​​.

Purim Carnival – The Greatest Show at the Y

This event, hosted by the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood, offers a fun-filled afternoon for families. Activities include bouncy houses, carnival games, arts and crafts, and more. It’s a wonderful opportunity for families to come together, celebrate the festive spirit of Purim, and enjoy a variety of entertainments suitable for all ages​​.

Don’t Forget!

You’ll be needing a costume for Purim, no doubt. Be sure to check out Abracadabra NYC, the premiere costume destination for every occasion! We have everything you need for your perfect Purim costume, from cute and hilarious kids costumes, or accessories to bring it all together!