This Weekend at the Y: Purim Fun for Everyone

by Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director

Purim is a holiday that is a thankful and joyful affirmation of Jewish survival, focused on joy and hope. We celebrate an ancient tale–the Book of Esther (aka the Megillah)– to remind us that we celebrate our remembered escape from persecution by generous acts towards those who are currently in need.

At the Y, we are excited to invite everyone in the neighborhood to celebrate together this weekend, at Pause/Play on Saturday, 2/28 and at a LABAKids concert on Sunday, 3/1. 

Saturday’s Pause/Play  will feature many celebratory Purim themed activities such as juggling, art (making masks), games and sports with our wonderful New Country Day Camp staff. Kids are encouraged to come in costume and join in a Purim Parade.  Adults can participate in activities with their children, or separately in two very special activities just for them.

Childcare and kid drop off activities are available!

On Sunday, enjoy LABAKIDS Purim concert together with your kids. Come in your favorite costume, make masks for an animal parade and take snapshots with our photo booth!

Each of these events are fun and accessible ways to get into the Purim spirit.  Everyone is welcome.

Traditionally, there are four observances for Purim–and each one has ways to engage at the 14th Street Y:

  1. Retelling the Purim story, frequently with humor and levity, dressed up in costumes as the characters in the story. This weekend at the Y, you can wear a costume to Saturday’s Pause/Play, bring toddlers in costume to our singalong at 4:00PM with Debbie Brukman, and party at the LABAKIDS concert on Sunday.
  1. Having a majestic celebratory feast, which traditionally includes healthy adults getting drunk. We hope that you will come enjoy delicious snacks at Pause/Play sponsored by Colson Patisserie and Sweet Loren, and that adults will drop off their kids at NCDC classes and come to the whisky tasting at 4:45PM with Dan Friedman.
  1. Giving financial gifts (tzedakah or charity) to those in need (matanot l’evyonim)
  2. Giving care packages of food and other treats to our friends and neighbors (mishloach manot).

As you decide how to give to your friends and to those in need, come chat with NY Times “Your Money” Columnist Ron Lieber as he discusses his new book, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money–and think with your neighbors about how to raise kids with excellent values who know how to save, splurge, and give in meaningful ways.

We hope to see you all this weekend for a wonderful celebration!

Shira Epstein BLOGS!

“I am looking for a ROYAL PARTNER!”

With these words, StorahtellingLab/Shul Maven and LABA Teaching Artist Shawn Shafner, as King Ahashverosh, drew      my children, along with scores of young children pulling their grown-ups along, to engage in the Purim story last Sunday morning in the bright lobby lounge of the 14th Street Y. He also seemed to catch the eye of Lab/Shul educator Jess-Ann Smith, aka, Queen Esther–who shared her snacks and her wisdom with the king, proving that a winning partner is one who was unselfish, kind, wise, and brave. 

For a peek at the fun, click here!purim - jessann and shawn

“And I am looking for a more permanent position as the King’s jester, so please laugh at my jokes,” stage-whispered a Leprechaun-green creature with glitter-dusted cheeks, a blue wig, and eyes that seemed to sparkle a lot like those of  Lab/Shul’s incomparable Naomi Less.

In the corner, 14th Street Y Senior Program DirectorShayna Kreisler was quickly motivating staff and volunteers to change over our mask-and-gragger-making tables to be filled with treats to make “Goody-Foodie-Bags.” All were invited to make one for family or friends, and another to deliver to patients and staff at Beth Israel Hospital who might not be able to celebrate Purim– fulfilling the mitzvot of “misloach manot,” sending gifts of food to people in need of some love.  My son’s favorite part of the morning was walking to the hospital and meeting with Chaplain Rabbi Sheldon Goldsmith, who explained that he helped patients, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to heal their souls while the doctors and nurses heal their bodies.

purim - spacemanpurim - bakerPartnership, levity, good works inspired by Jewish narrative, and relationship-building were all apparent as we brought together a diverse community in celebration of this Jewish holiday.  As a mom, I was delighted to see my family having fun with the friends we have made participating in Shabbat at Lab/Shul. As the new Executive Director of the 14th Street Y, I couldn’t have been happier to see Lab/Shul and Y community members and staff working to bring Lab/Shul regulars, Y members, and new friends together–some who sought out a Purim party, and others who had never heard of Purim but wanted to join in the fun.

In my first few weeks at the 14th Street Y, I have come to understand how this community center can work with our partners, like Lab/Shul. Together we can attract and create a diverse community of people who build relationships and seek meaning through engagement with Jewish celebration, stories, ideas, and values-inspired action.

 purim - shaking homemade groggersThere is a history of partnership between the 14th Street Y and the creators of Lab/Shul that long precedes my arrival on the scene. I look forward to continuing to build together and hopefully to extend that reach to include many other organizations and groups who are working to revitalize Jewish life downtown. (SPOILER: Stay tuned—we have great plans in store for Shavuot!)

It is through partnerships that are unselfish, brave, kind and wise that we will continue to build a vital, meaningful, and diverse community filled with levity, good works, and culture inspired by Jewish narrative and tradition.