Purim is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar, commemorating Queen Esther’s triumph, with the help of the wise Mordechai, in saving the Jews of ancient Persia from the wicked plot of Haman, evil adviser to the king. The holiday begins on March 23 this year and Southern Arizona’s synagogues have planned almost a week’s worth of celebrations, from costume parades to carnivals to readings of the Megillah — a chance to cheer Esther and boo Haman, or shake a grogger (noisemaker) to blot out his name.
Along with hearing the Megillah and enjoying a festive meal, two other mitzvot associated with Purim are giving charity to the poor (matanot l’evyonim) and gifts of food to friends (misloach manot), which often include hamantaschen, the triangular pastries said to resemble Haman’s hat (or his ears or his pocket, depending on which tradition you follow).
Congregation Or Chadash kicks off festivities at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 20 with a Purim Palooza of songs, trivia contests and a costume contest, followed by a Purim carnival run by the sixth and seventh grade students and their families (proceeds support the youth philanthropy program). The Sisterhood’s Shushan Boutique will be open during the carnival, selling jewelry, purses and scarves. Or Chadash will also hold a latke vs. hamantaschen debate at its Shabbat service on Friday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m., featuring local attorneys Jim “Latke” Whitehill vs. Jeff “Hamantaschen” Jacobson. More info: 512-8500.
At 10 a.m. on March 20, Congregation Chaverim will celebrate with a Megillah reading, hamantaschen bake and costume parade with the theme “Heroes and Sheroes.” Eighth graders will be selling plants to fund a trip. More info: 320-1015.
Temple Emanu-El will hold its Purim Extravaganza on March 20 at 10 a.m., with a Broadway-inspired Purim spiel, “The Book of Esther” (a G-rated take-off on “The Book of Mormon”). It will be followed by the Purim carnival. Wristbands and food tickets are available in advance; call 327-4501. On March 23, Temple Emanu-El will hold a 5:45 p.m. pizza party ($5 per adult for pizza, $2 for kids ages 5-12, kids 4 and under eat free). There’ll be prizes for all young people in costume and the Megillah reading will follow at at 6:30 p.m. RSVP at 327-4501.
Congregation Anshei Israel will hold its Purim Palooza party on Wednesday, March 23, beginning at 5:05 p.m. It will feature bounce houses, carnival games, street artists, popcorn and cotton candy for kids and Hurricanes/beer for those 21+. At 5:55 p.m. there will be a pasta dinner, followed by the Megillah reading at 6:36 p.m., costume parade and hamantaschen. An “after party” with a DJ, ice cream bar and alcoholic drinks will run 7:30-9 p.m. Everything is free (except raffle tickets), but RSVP is required by March 21 at 745-5550. A Megillah reading will also be held March 24 at 7 a.m.
Beth Shalom Temple Center of Green Valley will hold its Purim celebration on March 23 at 6:30 p.m. with a Megillah reading followed by a Middle Eastern dinner. Bring a box of macaroni and cheese mix to shake as a noisemaker (to be donated after the reading to the Green Valley Food Bank), plus $1.50 to donate to charity and additional items for the food bank. Costumes welcome. RSVP by March 20 at 648-6690.
Chabad Tucson will hold Maariv evening services with the reading of the Megillah on March 23 at 7 p.m. and on March 24, Shachrit morning services at 6:30 a.m. with a Megillah reading at 7:15 a.m., at Young Israel Chabad. On March 24 at 5 p.m., Chabad Tucson will present Purim in the Jungle, an African-themed celebration with a buffet dinner, Megillah reading and a drum circle. Tickets are $18 per adult, $10 per child, $54 for a family of four and are available at chabadtucson.com/rsvp.
Congregation Chofetz Chayim will hold Megillah readings March 23 at 7:15 p.m. and March 24 at 7:30 a.m. CCC’s Incredible Purim Party will be held March 24 at 5 p.m., featuring Phoenix mentalist Brett Barry for a 30-minute strolling show during the welcoming hour with wine and hors d’oeuvres, and a 45-minute stage show following a four-course dinner, plus live banjo music by folk and bluegrass musician Michael Walner. Tickets are is $21 for adults, $15 for students and $10 for children under 12. RSVP by March 21 at tucsontorah.org/purim-payment or contact Rabbi Israel Becker at 747-7780.
Congregation Bet Shalom will hold a Purim celebration pizza party with wine and a Megillah reading on March 24 at 5 p.m. Admission is $5. RSVP by March 23 at cbsaz.org.
Chabad of Oro Valley will hold a Purim in Israel celebration March 24 at 5 p.m., featuring an Israeli-style dinner and music and children’s activities. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. RSVP at jewishorovalley.com.