Purim is a time to party!
This year, the Jewish festival begins at sundown on Monday, March 6 and ends at sundown March 7.
It’s a holiday when the Jewish community “likes to let loose and have a really good time,” said Rabbi Emily Cohen of the West End Synagogue in the Upper West Side.
It is sometimes referred to as “Jewish Halloween,” because kids and grownups dress in costumes. Cohen said this year she’ll be dressing up as a narwhal.
Purim is based on the biblical story of Queen Esther, a young Jewish woman in ancient Persia who saved the Jews from being murdered by the king’s evil adviser, Haman. (Hence the inspiration for “hamantaschen,” the cookie-like pastry enjoyed during the holiday.)
The holiday is a “celebration of the possibility for one person with a strong moral compass to make a difference,” said Samantha Natov, associate rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
Cohen says Purim is also considered the “lightest” of Jewish holidays.
“There's a lot of heaviness in many Jewish holidays, for good reasons,” she said. “There's been a lot of — and still is, unfortunately — a great deal of antisemitism in the world.”
Purim has several components, including community service, a reading of the story about Queen Esther (the Megillah) and time to feast with family and friends. During the reading, people are encouraged to use groggers (noisemakers) and to boo and hiss every time the name Haman is uttered to prevent it from being heard.
For folks curious about Purim, or for those who already celebrate, there are events across the city: from adults-only parties with booze to family friendly festivals and comedy shows. Here’s a sampling of some events happening around town.
'Laugh your tuchus off' at a Purim comedy show at the 92nd Street Y
Standup Pamela Ray Schuller and three of her comedian friends will host this night of Purim jokes, Jewish humor and more. “If you're looking for something that is full of levity and joy and community, what a great opportunity to come hang out and see some great comedians who tour all over the world,” said Schuller. It’s on Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side. Tickets start at $36 and there will be a cash bar.
Party at the Plaza at a Purim Ball
The Jewish Museum’s annual fundraiser features cocktails and dinner, and will honor performing arts organization Bang on a Can. It’s on Tuesday, March 14, starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $150 for the afterparty only, and go up from there. You can learn more, and buy tickets here.
Head 'Into the Spiel' at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on the UWS
Come enjoy a musical mashup: the Purim story mixed with Sondheim’s characters from “Into the Woods.” This year’s theme is new, but the annual Purim musical parody is one of the synagogue’s most popular and enduring traditions – performed by people of all ages and talents, including some professional singers, said Associate Rabbi Samantha Natov. She added that everyone is welcome. Purim celebrations start on Monday, March 5 at 5 p.m. and the musical begins at 6:30 p.m. You can learn more here.
March in the Great Sutton Place Purim Parade
Children and pets are invited to march in this parade, which steps off at the corner of East 54th Street and First Avenue and winds up at Chabad Sutton on East 58th Street. Organizers invite participants to “come in costume, on a bike, or a scooter” on Tuesday, March 7 starting at 3:15 p.m. You can learn more here. Participating is free, and donations are encouraged.
Enjoy a Purim carnival in Staten Island
Guests are invited to “dress in your best costume” and head to the Bernikow JCC for a family carnival featuring Purim crafts, face painting, hamantaschen baking, carnival booths and more. It’s Saturday, March 5 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for kids and grownups are free. You can learn more here.
Bring the whole family to a Purim Carnival at the Y in Washington Heights
Kids of all ages will find something to enjoy at this event, such as bouncy houses, carnival games and crafts. Guests are also invited to bring donations of nonperishable food and toiletries. Tickets are $10 for grownups, $5 for kids, and children 2 and younger are free. Discounts are available for families. It’s on Sunday, March 12 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. You can learn more and buy tickets here.
Discover a Purim carnival in Dumbo, Brooklyn
Clowns, acrobats, jugglers and carnival games will be on site for this carnival sponsored by the Chabad of Dumbo. The event is Tuesday, March 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Dumbo Loft. The suggested donation is $20 per family. Popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs will be available for purchase. You can reserve a spot here.
Head to the Purim Carnival in Queens
Commonpoint Queens community center is hosting their annual Purim Celebration with games, a bounce house, arts and crafts, games, food and more on Sunday, March 12 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.. Admission is $5 per child 2 and over.
Sing, dance and celebrate at a Family Purim concert on the UES
A live band will retell the story of Purim at the 92nd Street Y. After the show, guests are invited to schmooze and nosh on hamantaschen and help with a community service project. The concert is Sunday, March 5 at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $36 per person; kids younger than 1 are free.
Get mischievous at the Night of a Thousand Faces in Bushwick (21+)
Body painting, DJ performances, aerial spectacles, parades, megillah readings and more are on tap at this party. Organizers invite you to come in costume for a night of “revelry, mischief and dancing in disguise, designed for you to unleash in complete anonymity.” The Night of a Thousand Faces kicks off Monday, March 6 at 10 p.m. Tickets start at $23.
Laugh with a Jewish standup comedian in the Bronx
Enjoy music, hamantaschen, a festive catered meal and Jewish standup comedian Eli Lebowicz at the Bronx Jewish Center. Their Purim Party is on Tuesday, March 7 at 5 p.m. You can learn more and RSVP here.
See a Purim puppet show in Jackson Heights
Kids and grownups are invited to dress in their favorite costumes, bring their best noisemakers and head to the Family Purim party at the Community United Methodist Church in Queens, where the Wonderspark Puppets will tell the Purim story. Additionally, guests are invited to help prepare snack bags for local community fridges. It’s on Sunday, March 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. You can learn more and register here.
Enjoy 'Purim around the world' in Prospect Heights
The Chabad Jewish Center of Prospect Heights invites families to enjoy live music, graffiti art, and dinner featuring cuisine from China, Italy and Israel. The event is on Tuesday March 7, with a Megillah reading at 4:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the celebration. Admission is $25 per adult, $12 for kids ages 2-12; and $40 for families. You can learn more and buy tickets here.
Correction: This story was updated to correct the date of the Purim Carnival at Commonpoint Queens community center