I know there’s a custom to dress up on Purim. Some friends of mine think it would be funny to dress up as a group and have some fun in a good natured way. I’m a little unsure though, since I wonder if the costume choice may be offensive to some people. That’s not our intent, but I’m not sure how to feel.


Thanks for reaching out.

There are four special commandments for the holiday of Purim: To hear the Megillah read twice, enjoy a festive meal, send gifts of food to our friends and to give to charity to the poor.

There is a tradition of dressing up as well, adding to the topsy-turvy-like nature of the day, that dates back to at least the 15th century. Reasons for the custom vary. Among them are an allusion to the nature of the Purim miracle and the holiday's theme of concealment, where the details of the story are really miracles hidden within natural events.1

Another possible reason we dress up on Purim is to minimize the embarrassment of the poor who go around collecting charity on this day.2

While there is discussion in Jewish law about the considerable leeway given to how people may dress up on Purim,3 many authorities emphasized4 that considering the plethora of optimally acceptable costumes and ways of rejoicing, one can easily avoid any potentially problematic ones from the standpoint of Jewish law.

In light of this, surely a costume that can make other people uncomfortable, can easily, and thus should, be substituted for one that will bring joy to everyone.

Put another way, yes we dress up on Purim to engage in the fun and antics of the day, but it is a Purim costume that you’re wearing5 , one that should express the meaning of the day: of Jewish pride against all odds, and acts of kindness to others.