Before St. Patrick’s Day engulfs Lawrence in a green, beer-filled frenzy Monday, local Jews will celebrate Purim this weekend with costumes, charitable giving and perhaps most importantly, food.
Two Jewish institutions in Lawrence are holding celebrations for the Jewish holiday, both of which are open to the public.
The Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life, 1203 W. 19th St., will host “Purim at the Palace” at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Oread Hotel, 1200 Oread Ave. This year’s theme reflects the royal setting of the holiday, said Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel of the Chabad Center. The story of Purim unfolded in the 4th century, when the evil tyrant Haman, an advisor to King Ahasuerus, plotted to kill all the Jews in ancient Persia. Esther, the heroine of the holiday, foiled his plan and saved the Jewish people.
“The beauty of this event is that it really has a broad spectrum of people from across the city of Lawrence that participate and become part of it,” said Tiechtel, who helped organize “Purim in the Palace.”
This year’s event, now in its eighth year with the Chabad Center, will feature a comedy performance, a costume contest, live music, a photo booth, a magic show and crafting activities for children. There will also be a multimedia presentation of the Book of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillah. The text is traditionally read on Purim.
The celebration will also include a catered banquet, complete with treats ranging from well-known Jewish staples including challah bread to Purim-specific food such as hamantash (a pouch-like pastry filled with fruit, chocolate or other ingredients) and savory meat dumplings called creplach.
“Even in everyday life, within nature there are hidden miracles,” Tiechtel said. “That’s the theme of this holiday and that’s why the foods that we eat are symbolic of this idea, that the goodies are hidden inside.”
Tickets for “Purim in the Palace” cost $10 per person and $30 per family. Reservations can be made at www.JewishKU.edu.
The Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation, 917 Highland Drive, will host a Purim celebration on Saturday. A potluck dinner will kick off the event at 5:45 p.m., followed by a traditional Havdalah service at 6:15, a costume parade at 6:30 and a reading of the Megillah at 6:45.
Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items. These will be donated to Just Food, said LJCC office administrator Marty Stemmerman.