Get ready to break out your best masks and costumes for a night of frivolity and feasting.
“There are ritual aspects to Purim, but the biggest tradition is that we generally dress up and hold a party,” says Ariel Weinstein, the manager of GLOE, the Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach and Engagement at the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C.
Purim, which commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from an extermination plot, is based on the Biblical story of Queen Esther, the wife of King Ahasuerus of Persia, who hid her Jewish identity from her husband until it became necessary to “out” herself in order to save her people.
“Part of the story of Purim has to do with the fact that Esther had been hiding her Jewish identity, but she came forward to be an activist and voice for the people,” explains Weinstein. “She used her power and influence with the Royal Court and the king to make it known that the Jews were being treated unfairly.”
In commemoration of Esther’s bravery, revelers celebrate by dressing up in colorful, ornate costumes and masks. The celebration also involves the exchange of various baked sweets known as hamantaschen. For GLOE’s Purim party, which will be held at Mission Dupont on Saturday, Mar. 23, organizers will have appetizers and snacks on hand while revelers may buy drinks from the bar. Weinstein says there will also be some Purim-themed drag performances throughout the night.
Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online prior to the event. If any tickets remain after online sales close, they will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis for $15 at the door.
Weinstein says the story of Esther often has particular resonance with people who are LGBTQ, because it mirrors the coming out process.
“So much of the story of Purim has to do with identity — the times you conceal parts of your identity, and the times you talk about it openly and with pride,” he says. “So the story of Esther begins when she wasn’t open about her identity, but she is able to come to a place where she accepts and is able to celebrate herself. That’s what we celebrate at Purim, and why it’s special to be putting this on as members of the LGBT Jewish community.”
GLOE’s Purim Party is Saturday, Mar. 23, from 7-10 p.m. at Mission Dupont, 1606 20th St. NW. All are welcome to attend. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit www.edcjcc.org.