Nearly 500 people gathered Sunday at Valencia Heritage Park for the Purim Carnival hosted by Chabad of SCV, Congregation Beth Shalom and Temple Beth Ami.
The three synagogues planned a joint Purim celebration this year for the Jewish holiday, instead of hosting individual carnivals.
The park was filled with carnival games, a rock wall, inflatable hamster balls, a photo booth, pony rides, and much more. Sounds of music and laughter set the scene for a fun and celebratory event, including delicious food, treats and traditional Purim fares, like Hamantaschen, a special Jewish pastry.
Jeff Waco attended with his family and in-laws. They typically attend Congregation Beth Shalom. The family thought it would be a fun time for the whole family.
“We wanted to celebrate Purim and introduce our daughter who is two, to what Judaism is all about,” said Waco. “This helps him see what fun our religion can be.”
Purim is typically a very fun, celebratory occasion in Judaism. Carnivals are a common way to celebrate and this year the three temples planned a large joint event, instead of hosting events separately.
Frumi Marozov, Tracy Blazer and Donna Feffer were the women behind the idea to host the event together. Coming from different synagogues, they decided shortly after the joint Hanukkah event at the mall, that Purim could be done together as well.
“We all pray a little differently and that’s okay,” said Blazer. “In Santa Clarita, we don’t have a Jewish Community Center like in the Valley. We are 200 family congregations, but when we come together we make a large community.”
Children had their faces painted, attendees shot hoops, played Mad Dog Games, or ate cotton candy. The congregations hosted music, a special entertainer, and even fulfilled the Jewish commandment to read the Megillah.
The Megillah is the book of Esther, which recounts the Biblical story of how Esther, with God’s help, saved the Jewish people from annihilation by the evil Haman. In Judaism, the Megillah must be read on the holiday, either at home, in the synagogue, or even at a carnival event.
“This was a chance for us all to do something to give back to our community,” said Donna Feffer. “We wanted everyone to have fun and be happy, that’s what the holiday is all about.”
The three synagogues have hosted a joint Hanukkah celebration at the mall for years, bringing the larger Santa Clarita Jewish community together for the holiday. With the continued success of that event, they decided to try it for Purim.
Blazer explained the synagogues pooled their resources that would have normally been focused on individual carnivals, for the big event.
“Our three congregations really get along,” said Tracy Blazer. “I think they want to feel like they are a complete Jewish community.”
Rik and Carolyn Levine were especially excited about the joint event. They moved to Santa Clarita in 1983. They explained at the time there was only one Jewish congregation in the area.
“This is great,” said Rik Levine. “ It gives us a place to get together as Jews, not just congregations.”
Members from various congregations donated carnival games and their time to run the different activities. Everyone was excited about the opportunity to socialize in one large Jewish community event. Nearly 500 people lingered in the park tasting different foods, trying different actives or watching the entertainment put on for the day.
“Everybody really likes the idea of doing things together,” added Frumi Marozov. “The whole idea of unity is important, especially in this day and age when many people are divided. To come to one event instead of different events was really special for everyone.”