Purim starts Saturday night, and Chabad Houses around the world (click here to find one near you) are ready for it. In China, there will be a “Royal Purim Dinner” with an acrobatic clown, and in Mexico, there will be “Purim at the Beach,” complete with a barbecue. In South Africa, there will be a “Purim Sundae Party,” and in Israel, there will be public Megillah readings outdoors. And those are just a few of the events in store for a holiday marked by festive fun for all.

Rishi Gurevitch, co-director of Chabad of Arlington in Texas with her husband, Rabbi Levi Gurevitch, is preparing to celebrate “Purim Under the Sea,” with sushi, an interactive bubble show, a costume contest and the Megillah reading.

The Sunday event welcomes “all ages, all stages,” and should draw a crowd of between 50 and 70 people, she says. “We want them to feel part of the community, and that we’re all together celebrating. We hope everyone will come and join us.”

In Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Chabad co-directors Rabbi Abba and Raizel Rubin are hosting an “Israeli Purim.” They are going to squeeze Jaffa oranges by hand, send letters to soldiers in the Israel Defense Force, take pictures against a Western Wall backdrop, and are putting shawarma and falafel on the menu. To entertain the younger set, kids will be able to dig in the sand for chocolate gold coins.

Many people come dressed up, including, of course, the rabbi and his wife. “We’re making homemade costumes,” he says. “I’m going to be dressed as a Torah.”

Their event will take place on Saturday night. On Sunday, they will deliver gifts of food (mishloach manot) and read the Megillah, two of the four mitzvahs of the holiday. The other two include gifts to the poor and a festive meal, also on tap for this Chabad.

Rubin hopes people come away from the event happy about their Judaism, proud of their culture and ready to perform more mitzvahs—more good deeds.

A Chance to Connect

The children of Rabbi Abba and Raizel Rubin of Chabad in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., try on costumes for this year's "Israeli Purim." From left are Moshe (mezuzah), Chana Malka (Torah) and Chaya (tzedakah box).
The children of Rabbi Abba and Raizel Rubin of Chabad in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., try on costumes for this year's "Israeli Purim." From left are Moshe (mezuzah), Chana Malka (Torah) and Chaya (tzedakah box).

Meanwhile, Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie in Illinois plans to host four events over Purim, according to Rabbi Yochanan Posner. Over the course of 24 hours—Purim starts on the evening of Saturday, March 15, and ends on the evening of Sunday, March 16; in Jerusalem and other walled cities, it is celebrated on Sunday night, March 16, and during the day on Monday—he expects some 2,000 people to come through their doors. The main event on Saturday night is a shtetl-themed party with all sorts of activities for adults, kids, teens and families.

On site will be a hand grinder to make flour and a wooden yoke, the kind people once used to carry buckets of water, as well as a pushcart and a cider press, he explains. “Guests can try their hand as a blacksmith or make their own jar of pickles,” he says. “And there will be a little bakery where they can bake their own hamantashen.”

Purim is the kind of holiday that draws in the crowds, says Posner; it’s informal and a chance to let loose. “They should come away knowing that it’s fun to do mitzvahs,” he says. “And that everything we do as Jews should be done with positivity and happiness.”

It’s also a chance to connect in a way that doesn’t involve fasting or especially long prayer services. “Maybe they’ll come back for the Passover seder,” he adds.

Carol Raizin, Leonard Raizen and their nephew Larry get a taste of Purim early by sampling some hamantashen on the slopes, courtesy of Rabbi Yehudi Steiger of Chabad Lubavitch of Park City, Utah, and his son, Shneor Zalman.
Carol Raizin, Leonard Raizen and their nephew Larry get a taste of Purim early by sampling some hamantashen on the slopes, courtesy of Rabbi Yehudi Steiger of Chabad Lubavitch of Park City, Utah, and his son, Shneor Zalman.

Rabbi Yehudi Steiger, co-director of the Chabad Lubavitch of Park City, Utah, with his wife, Devori, has been out on the ski slopes telling people about their Purim party and handing out hamantashen ahead of time. “We want everyone to come hear the Megillah and enjoy the festivities,” he says.

There will be a Megillah reading at the Chabad house, and he says he’s also arranging to read it on the mountain. On Sunday, they’ll be having a magician and live music.

Last year was the first time they held Purim in Park City, notes Steiger, and “this year, it’s going to be much bigger and more exciting.” The takeaway, he says, is that Judaism is real, alive, exciting and enjoyable. “We want people to have a great time, so that they will want to come back.”

At Chabad of Downtown in Milwaukee, Wis., Rabbi Yoseph and Chasha Samuels are preparing for a large community event on Saturday. On Sunday, the rabbi will drive an hour west of Madison so Jews in that area can hear the Megillah.

“Jews come out of the woodwork to celebrate Purim,” he says. “I’m always amazed at how they come.”

"Purim Under the Sea" is the theme of the party being held by Chabad of Arlington in Texas.
"Purim Under the Sea" is the theme of the party being held by Chabad of Arlington in Texas.

As for the message, he hopes that everyone he reaches “realizes that G‑d runs the world. Even though it’s natural, there are miracles all around us—we just need to open our eyes and celebrate it, see it.”