Study and Theory/
Purim

Shmuel Avidor

Is This A Jewish Holiday?

Ein Hashofet, 1965

Carnival or Purim?

In recent years I have been very disappointed by the way we have celebrated it, and with a feeling of emptiness in the heart in its wake.
I asked myself, is this really Purim? Is this a Jewish holiday?

What does this carnival with cowboys and Indians and Eskimos have to do with the Book of Esther and all its symbolism?

This is just the kind of carnival I have seen among the gentiles abroad. Do they have greater affinity with us? Do they create more joyfulness? Do we and our younger generation identify more with them? Is this the tradition of a Jewish holiday?

It seems to me that the Book of Esther itself has so many topics, there should be no need to look for a new Purim theme each year. It contains political issues that are relevant to our times as well; it has love and hate, treason, evil, jealousy, punishment, and even... striptease. Are all these topics not enough? Just as we knew how to adapt the traditional Passover Haggadah to our needs, in the sense of finding the pomegranate, eating the fruit and throwing away the peel; we should thus adapt the Book of Esther to suit our times and our wishes.

In addition, the temporary residents who join us in the party have significant influence on the holiday’s content, sometimes positive and sometimes negative.

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