By Jacqueline Hyman, opinion editor, @jacqbh58

Students gathered at Maryland Hillel dressed in costumes prepare to watch videos for the Digital Shorts Competition. Jacqueline Hyman/Mitzpeh
A hot dog, minions, and Fred Flintstone gather at Maryland Hillel for the Purim Digital Shorts Competition. Jacqueline Hyman/Mitzpeh

After a Megillah reading and a break fast for the Fast of Esther, members of this university’s Jewish community crowded Maryland Hillel to vote on their favorite Purim shtick videos at Purim Night Live: Digital Shorts Competition last Wednesday.

The March 23 event included the presentation of three videos submitted in the competition, as well as a “Senior Shpiel” after the voting took place. This is the first time the competition has occurred, said Shira Neuman, the Orthodox Union – Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Torah educator. Neuman exhibited some videos after the break fast last year, but there was no contest.

“I got the idea, ‘well, there are enough funny people in the community who want to pull stuff together … why not turn it into a competition?’” Neuman said.

JLIC paired up with Ometz, the Conservative student group, and Kedma, the Orthodox student group, to create and advertise for the event, Neuman said. Most of the advertising was done through social media, especially Facebook.

People dressed in eye-catching costumes, following Purim tradition, spilled out of the multipurpose room and into the next room to watch the videos. A trio of Minnie Mouses, and everyone else, signed in at the door and picked up their ballots, ready to vote on the humorous projects.

“I thought it was really good,” said freshman government and politics major Moshe Klein, who is an intern for JLIC. “A lot of people come … and sit and laugh next to their friends on Purim, it’s good.”

The winning video, “Mekazoomen,” was a parody portraying an a cappella group – but with kazoos. The other two videos were “Short Vort,” a “parscha” by Rabbi Ari Neuman, and “What is TAMID?” by Kevin Rychik.” Klein, a member of the winning group, said putting the video together took a lot of time. He and sophomore civil engineering major Ari Gertner started writing the script at the beginning of this semester.

All three videos received positive responses from the audience, Klein said his group of friends was not originally planning to enter their video into the competition but was happy to make people laugh.

“I was really pleased,” Klein said. “Going in, Ari and I were really hoping that it wasn’t just funny in our minds and that it was legitimately funny.”

The group’s prize is a pizza and ice cream party, details of which will be decided later.

The Maryland Hillel multipurpose room fills up with students. Jacqueline Hyman/Mitzpeh.
The Maryland Hillel multipurpose room fills up with costumed spectators for the JLIC video competition. The winning video, “Mekazoomen,” got 79 votes. Jacqueline Hyman/Mitzpeh.

Neuman said the large crowd at the event was thanks largely to the seniors, who showed their video, “Purim Night Live,” a spin-off of “Saturday Night Live,” after the competition. The participants’ friends, Neuman said, all came to the event for support, which largely boosted attendance.

The video included segments such as “Mean Tweets,” modeled off of the segment of the same name by Jimmy Kimmel, “Freddy on the Street,” modeled on Billy Eichner’s “Billy on the Street,” “Who’s that Kedma Member?,” a play on “Who’s that Pokemon?” and “The Bachor,” a parody of “The Bachelor.” Klein said some of the segments were “hilarious,” and that he enjoyed watching the shtick. The senior sphiel video can be found online here.

Although JLIC had hoped for more video submissions for the competition, they were happy to receive the ones they did, especially with spring break right before Purim this year, Shira said. She said the event exceeded her expectations.

“I thrive on this. This is totally my thing,” Shira said. “I hope other people enjoyed it just as much … there were a lot of laughs in the room, and my only hope is that next year people will continue to want to do it.”

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