My parents joined Temple Israel when I was almost 3 years old. Back in preschool and elementary school in the '80s, Purim looked different. There was a Purim Carnival every year, but kids didn't wear just any costume. You'd see lots of royalty walking the halls because everyone dressed up as a character from the Purim story, mostly Esther and King Ahasuerus. Each year the night before Purim, my dad would make crowns out of aluminum foil for his 2 favorite queens. My sister, Debbie and I would wake up in the morning, put on our dress, fancy shoes, and top it off with the crown he had worked so hard to make. I don't remember if other people had homemade crowns also, but I always thought ours were so special. I remember being excited to play the games at the Purim Carnival and it was always a good time. I loved leaving with my little prizes like the scented erasers that looked like pretend lipstick or those pop-a-point pencils. Such little things, but they were my souvenirs from the carnival.
As a teen, I volunteered at Temple Israel's Purim Carnival and then in college at the local temple's Purim Carnival. Those were easy and fun experiences. Just show up and run a booth for a couple hours and watch kids have a blast. In 2003 my sister and I started planning the Purim Carnival at T.I. with the youth group. As their advisors, we guided TIFTYites to coordinate the whole carnival each year. That is no easy task for high schoolers, but it was a rewarding one. TIFTY parents, Religious School teachers, and some temple volunteers would help us pull it off. We worked with TIFTY planning carnivals for 9 years. After a break for a couple years, Debbie and I have been back at it planning again for the past few. This year will be our 12th or 13th Purim Carnival. I lost count at some point. Things are different now though. The Purim Carnival is now more of a temple affair. It's not planned exclusively by the youth group. We have board members and congregants who volunteer, Preschool and Religious School kids who make decorations, lots of congregant sponsors, and staff support. We still have those amazing Religious School teachers too! This is our 3rd year planning it as volunteers/teachers and we love the way the community has come out to support Purim.
It is especially important to me that it's a community affair now that I'm a parent. To show my kids how the temple steps up to put on a fun event, is to show them the meaning of a temple. This is what it's all about. Our older son, Drew, will be 6 in March. Watching Drew get excited about everything at the Purim Carnival each year has brought a new joy to the holiday. Our baby, Tyler, wasn't even 3 months old at last year's Carnival and just slept through it as we all passed him around. I know he will love it this year though! Both boys will wear silly costumes, probably not Haman and Mordechai as traditions have changed, and I know they'll have their own favorite memorable prizes over the years. Maybe it will be scented erasers or fun pencils like it was for me, or maybe they'll have other favorites, but it doesn't matter because Purim isn't about the costumes or the prizes. Purim is about the Jewish people celebrating together as a community.
So temple community, let's make this 2019 the best Purim Carnival yet!
For Drew, for Tyler, and for all the other kids who deserve the same memories that many of us have from our childhood.
CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR WRISTBANDS FOR THE PURIM CARNIVAL OR TO VOLUNTEER!
1st Grade Religious School Teacher and Purim Carnival Co-Chair
ABOVE: Jennifer Patchin & Debbie Schultz, Purim Co-Chairs