Chabad Center celebrates Purim in China
By Wendy Foster For The Sun February 20, 2013 6:08PM
Rabbi Mendy and Alta Goldstein and their children celebrate Purim in the Wild Wild West last year. | Submitted
At a Glance
What: Purim in China
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Chabad Center of Naperville, 1935 Brookdale Road, 115, in Naperville.
Cost: The advance rate is $12/adult and $10/child; or $14/adult and $12/child at the door.
To learn more: Call 630-344-9770 or email email@example.com.
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:16AM
An ancient Jewish tradition will be observed with a bit of an Asian twist this weekend. Chabad Center of Naperville will celebrate Purim in China on Sunday. The event will include biblical observances of Purim, along with Chinese decorations and food.
Purim celebrates the biblical Book of Esther also known as the Megillah. The holiday, which is observed with great festiveness and fun, commemorates the story of the beautiful Jewish Queen Esther who saved the Jewish people from being destroyed, as was planned by Haman, the evil vizier of the King of Persia. The celebration of Purim, which is typically carnival-like, includes costumes, feasting and great merry-making … and in this instance, with Chinese flare.
The Megillah specifies that Purim celebrations include four mitzvoth or commandments.
“There should be a festive meal, an exchange of food baskets with friends, giving money to the poor and recounting the story by reading the scroll which is the Megillah,” said Rabbi Mendy Goldstein of Chabad Center of Naperville.
Rabbi Goldstein explained that, during the past several years, Chabad Center of Naperville has adopted various themes for their Purim celebration.
“We’ve done Israel, Hawaii, Mexico, and last year, was a wild West theme,” he said.
Integrating a theme, he said, adds excitement and fun to the festivities. This year’s event will include Chinese decorations, food, prizes and raffles.
People traditionally dress in costume for Purim. Goldstein explained that one possible reason for this is that wearing a mask reflects the idea that the miracle of Purim is “hidden” or the result of the hidden hand of God rather than an outright miracle. To celebrate that, people hide by wearing costumes but remain true to ourselves underneath the masks.
Goldstein said that area Jews who don’t regularly attend worship services or holiday observances, are often drawn to participate in Purim celebrations at Chabad.
“People love the story of Purim from the time that they were kids,” said the Rabbi’s wife, Alta Goldstein. “It’s about a girl who gets picked to be queen and saves the day. The Jews win. It’s also a fun day of dressing up and giving treats to friends.”
During the reading of the Megillah, people in the congregation will use noisemakers every time the name Haman is read.
“It’s the only time that it’s a mitzvah to make noise, so we pass out noisemakers and the kids love it,” Alta Goldstein said. “Then at the end of the service, I collect the noisemakers so the parents aren’t furious with me.”
People love the tradition of making food baskets to share with nursing homes, friends and family.
“My kids made their baskets last week,” Goldstein said. “Halloween is all about getting candy. They’re all excited for Purim because they get to give candy.”
Purim in China, as all Chabad events, are open to the community. The Goldsteins hope that the informality and festive nature of the holiday will draw attendees.
“It’s not a synagogue setting, and you don’t have to know Hebrew or prayers or anything,” Goldstein said.
“It’s just a fun family celebration so people don’t feel intimidated. There are no expectations. There never are, but this is really just a party.”