Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Jewish Pavilion Is Gearing Up for Purim Fun


February 22, 2019

A Jewish Pavilion Purim shpiel cast from last year: (from left) Emily Glickstein, Marty Glickstein, Pat Rubenstein, Julie Levitt, and Barry Rubenstein at Brookdale Lake Orienta

The holiday of Purim is a favorite of young and old, a festive celebration that's known for over-the-top fun. For Jewish Pavilion staff, volunteers and seniors, Purim celebrations are one of the most enjoyable parties of the year, with eye-catching decorations, costumes, noisemakers and refreshments. Crowds of non-Jewish residents and staff of the senior facilities, as well as visiting representatives of Pavilion sponsors, join in and get into the spirit, and everyone has a great time.

Pavilion staff and volunteers adorn the parties in bright green, purple and yellow décor, and give the party-goers masks, beads and groggers. The highlight of the parties is the Purim shpiel, an ensemble play that tells the ancient story of how Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from annihilation in the Persian capital of Shushan. Pavilion volunteer and former staff member Cathy Swerdlow wrote the script years ago, and attendees frequently vie to read one of the six parts. Often facility staff members take part in the fun, donning crowns or hats and costumes and sporting signs around their necks with the name of their character.

"Residents who don't normally come to our programs will come out for the Purim party," said Judy Appleton, a Pavilion program director. She also notices that many of the Jewish residents will have fond memories of dressing as Queen Esther or Mordechai or Haman as children, or helping their own children take on those roles. "They want to share that," she said.

The retelling of the story can be a raucous affair, as residents in masks and feather boas make noise with groggers and bang on tables or stamp their feet to drown out the name of the story's villain, the treacherous Haman. "It's a chance to act out and be a little loud," said Appleton. "When people wear a mask, they get to not be themselves," she explained. "It kind of pulls them out of their shell."

After the Purim shpiel, staff and volunteers lead the residents and guests in singing Purim songs as they pass out hamentaschen and other refreshments. Some of jelly-filled triangle cookies and other treats are contributed by area synagogues, which make shalach manot baskets-special gifts for Purim-and give them to Jewish Pavilion program directors to share with residents. In addition, Pavilion sponsor Cornerstone Hospice is graciously donating hamentaschen for this year's parties.

The Jewish Pavilion has a full schedule of parties planned for the weeks surrounding Purim, which this year takes place on March 20–21. The community is warmly invited to attend any of these parties; see the facilities calendar on the Pavilion website for times and locations, or contact the Jewish Pavilion at 407-658-9363 for more information.


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