Purim Celebration: Recap
by Lizzy Tangney
I remember the first time I took a tour of the synagogue, more than two years ago, as a sophomore at Providence College. Now as a senior, I’m so excited to be a part of the project. Each time I visit the building itself, I am struck by the incredible power and strength it seems to possess. The potential is almost tangible, visible to everyone who has had the opportunity to see it.
Equally as impressive is the sense of community that has emerged through the revitalization process, a community that came together last Sunday for a celebration of Purim, a Jewish holiday. The event was held at the Westfield Lofts, and the turn was quite impressive, more than forty people in attendance. Parents and children, dressed up in their best costumes, along with community organizers, students from Brown and Providence College, professors, and even a storyteller were present.
Mark Binder is a Jewish storyteller that helped explain Purim to those of us unfamiliar with the holiday. Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Adar, to commemorate the unsuccessful attempt by the King’s advisor Haman to kill all the Jewish people. According to the Book of Esther, Haman’s plan was foiled by Mordecai and Esther, his adopted daughter who was also the Queen. It is a classic story of good triumphing over evil, and the idea that standing up for what is right, even when it is risky or uncomfortable, must be done. There are strong themes of advocacy and integrity throughout the story; themes that are mirrored in the continuing revitalization project of the synagogue. Mark Binder acted out the Purim story, even involving his audience to make it more interactive. For those who celebrate the holiday, it was a great way to come together to share in traditions, food, and games. For those unfamiliar with Purim and its history, this event provided an opportunity to learn about the Jewish tradition, as well as meet new friends and catch up with old ones.
For me, as a global studies major with a concentration in religious diversity and a strong interest in multi-cultural relationships, the event brought so many of my interests together in one place. The Broad Street Synagogue is a valuable source of religious and cultural history, while the community that has developed around the project is composed of a variety of people of different ages, cultures, religions and backgrounds. Yet all see the importance of the building and the larger idea behind it.
The Purim event served as a fun celebration for everyone involved, and equally as important, served as an opportunity to foster the growing community surrounding the Broad Street Synagogue project. Every small event such as this one promotes conversations and interactions that will maintain and add to the energy surrounding the revitalization. This is truly a community effort and needs the help and voices of every single one of us. After the event, tours were given at the synagogue, allowing new people to explore the space for the first time. The rehabilitation and revitalization of this building is a long term project but one of the most important aspects is the community conversation that will emerge through the process. Keep an eye out for future events this spring and summer!
We’d like to thank Mark Binder again for coming. If you are interested in purchasing any of his products, his books and audio are available on Amazon and iTunes in print, CD, eBook and audio download. His latest eBook, “Cinderella Spinderella” is on sale through the end of March (firstname.lastname@example.org) and signed copies of his works are available at http://lightpublications.com/store. Additionally, if you’d like to get a free story every month, check out: http://bit.ly/storyamonthnews.