By Char Freedberg
This university’s Purim celebration was filled with the usual things one would find at a Purim celebration: food, noisemakers, an upbeat mood and costumes galore.
The holiday celebrates one of many instances in Jewish history when someone tried to kill Jews but did not succeed. The STAMP Student Union’s Colony Ballroom was filled with Jewish students from all denominations and affiliations partaking in a special celebration.
When the traditional reading of the Megillah scroll was finished, students shot confetti guns and a DJ began playing music to show that Purim is a joyous celebration, a sentiment that senior public health science major Rebecca Elspas appreciated.
“I really enjoy that Maryland has an exciting, inclusive, friendly vibe for Purim. I really enjoy when we do the Megillah reading and when everyone comes dressed in costumes and when people do group costumes. I think it’s really fun and it feels like a whole collective Jewish unity event and we’re all just having a good time,” she said.
While Elspas likes celebrating Purim at this university, she does miss some traditions, including mishloach manot, the concept of giving packages with food and goodies to other people.
“It’s more like a party vibe here, which is fun, but it’s not religious or cultural as much,” she said as the DJ blasted music behind her.
To many students, however, there are no problems with this party-like atmosphere since Purim is meant to be a fun holiday. Nadiv Panitch, a junior engineering and computer science major, said that he dressed in a Perry the Platypus onesie due to the stress of his midterm exams leaving him to improvise a costume to wear.
“I really love that [this Purim celebration] brought the entire community together. It didn’t feel like it was just Ometz or Kedma or Ruach; it really felt like a nice blend of everyone. I thought it was really nicely done and I’m thankful to Hillel for putting it all together,” he said.
Aviva Prins, a first year graduate student in the computer science department, loved how similar this celebration was to other ones that she has gone to in the past.
“It’s a very similar experience where it’s kind of loud and then everyone goes quiet and then it gets really loud again, and we have a rotating group of readers where we have one person who gets up, tells the story and then another person who gets up and then continues telling the story, and everyone dresses up and has a good time,” she said.
The celebration even included a food table specifically for people who participated in the fast of Esther, a custom of fasting the day before Purim in commemoration of Queen Esther’s fast before she begged the Persian king to spare the Jews’ lives.