Hundreds of community members attended Congregation Beth Shalom’s Purim Carnival on Sunday — one of the synagogue’s biggest to date, according to event organizers.
Jay Siegel, head rabbi for Beth Shalom, said the large attendance was partly due to the remission of the pandemic and a community eagerness to celebrate coveted holidays with others once again.
“This event is special because Purim of course commemorates the Jewish people overcoming adversity,” said Siegel. “And one of the main themes is joy and being joyous. So we take events that may have occurred in our past that are tragic, bad, negative and we find ways to make joy out of those. So this is where you have a lot of festivity and fun and merrymaking.”
Attendees dressed in costume and partook in the many games and attractions the carnival had to offer — face painting, a petting zoo, carnival games and even a video game truck. There were also plenty of food options, too —- kosher hot dogs topped with caramelized onions, cotton candy and other treats were devoured by kids and adults alike.
Danny Maya, president of Beth Shalom, said the carnival acted as a fundraiser for the congregation but also aimed to serve out the three mitzvahs of Purim — giving gifts, eating and reading the story of queen Esther, known as the Megillah.
“Purim is a day of joy for the Jewish people,” said Maya. “We celebrate this holiday to remember the story of Queen Esther and Mordecai — it’s a story of how the Jews had to hide their identity, because there were evil people that wanted to get rid of the Jews. And this holiday is to remember the story of God, helping us overcome that obstacle and survive to have this joyous holiday. I mean, this is the biggest turnout that we’ve ever had, it’s really amazing.”
Attendee Mark Oknyansky, there with his 7-year-old daughter, Iris, said it was really nice seeing the community out together again.
“This is a really fun gathering of the community. It was a little rough during COVID, but it’s nice to see everyone come out,” said Oknyansky. “Purim is a festival of joy, and so this carnival just brings out the joy with all the kids and the adults and it’s just a lot of fun.”
Event organizers said the event couldn’t have been possible without the help of its volunteers made of the local ROTC and community members.