Religion & Beliefs

Becoming Jewish: Meeting Queen Esther And The Gang

Spend a weekend cursing out Haman in Long Island, and you will probably enjoy your conversion process a bit more. Read More

By / March 28, 2011

I found myself sitting on a bench in a Sephardic Shul on Long, surrounded by families I didn’t know. The rabbi read the story of Esther while the children blew their horns, spun their noisemakers, and yelled whenever they hear the word “Haman.”  I’d read about it, but experiencing it live is a different thing altogether. Little girls were dressed like little queens; babies were mini football players and superheroes. There were two teens fully clad in leprechaun gear; a couple went as a nun and priest.

I decided on being a robot for a few reasons, mainly because it took five minutes to put together; a box, two lights, and aluminum foil to assemble.

Since my boyfriend, Danny (you might remember him as my Jewish boyfriend who wouldn’t marry a woman who wasn’t Jewish, but doesn’t like Jewish women) is still visiting the UK, I decided to celebrate with his family. After a beautiful Shabbat dinner, we rose bright and early (to me, that’s nine in the morning.) for services. My excitement was probably accelerated thanks to the effects of euphoric exhaustion (side note: alliteration rules!). Lunchtime at the Shul, then another three lunches at the house and visits from family friends led to a nap induced by reading about the Torah. I think at that point I needed a break from it.

Following the five-minute creation of the robot costumes (Danny’s brother joined me in the idea), we headed to the big event: the Megillah reading. As mentioned earlier, nearly every person at the Shul was dressed up. The Rabbi read the story of Esther in Hebrew and I finished about 20 minutes early after reading it in English. More food was had (I think I was at my seventh meal at this point, oy vey), and we headed over to another Shul to scope out what was going on. By midnight, I was so full of carbohydrates that I never wanted to touch challah bread again.

We woke up even earlier the next day for the second Megillah reading… at 8:30 a.m.! That’s blasphemous for this 22-year-old insomniac. The next few hours were spent preparing the gifts to be delivered to friends and neighbors. One of our stops was a nursing home where Danny worked, where all the residents professed their love for him. I felt like royalty there since I am dating the king of the nursing home.  The day’s festivities ended with a circus-themed event at yet another Shul, where two acrobats breathed fire, walked on stilts, and did bike tricks.  By the end of the day, I was ready to fast for the rest of my life; this would make Yom Kippur a lot easier.   On the way home, Danny’s family asked me if I was basically “Jew-ed out” by the events of the weekend. While everything was in overdrive, I had, as the kids say, a blast! Do the kids still say that?

This was my first Purim and by far my favorite Jewish holiday I’ve participated in. There is nothing more fulfilling than spending time with friends and family. I admire the fact that in Judaism, it’s important to donate to the needy. I loved booing Haman, spending a lot of time at Shul, and seeing everyone so happy. It’s always wonderful to put life on pause, even for a few days, and have fun your loved ones.  It’s rare to have moments where I feel completely at peace, like nothing can do me wrong and all my problems are meaningless in comparison to the big picture. Over the Purim holiday, I experienced that.