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Purim: Celebrating Deliverance

It's a week of the most joyous celebration of modern Judaism.

Posted: March 3, 2008 6:30 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
When it comes to Purim, it's all about celebrating a joyous time with friends and family.

The Jewish holiday, celebrated on the 14th day of the month of Adar on the Hebrew calendar, serves as a way for the Jewish community to commemorate the events in the Book of Esther, which describes the survival of the Jewish people living in Persia, despite the attempts made by enemies to eliminate them.
Not to be left out of the good times, the local Jewish community will be celebrating Purim with various carnivals and festivals throughout March.

One of the biggest Purim events will be held at Six Flags Magic Mountain on Sunday.

Known as PurimFest 2008 and tagged as "The World's Largest Purim Carnival," the fifth annual event at the Valencia theme park will feature live music, crafts, games and kosher food.

Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami in Newhall, who paired up with Magic Mountain to organize PurimFest, said the original goal when initiating the festival was to make use of the Santa Clarita landmark to celebrate Purim.

With that goal, Blazer said PurimFest at Magic Mountain started in 2003 and has been growing in popularity ever since.

Although he said that the Santa Clarita Valley's Jewish community is small, he believes PurimFest at Six Flags is one of the largest events in terms of attendance and size.

"Over the last four years, 5,000 people have come to the Purim carnivals," he said.

That breaks down to an average of between 1,000 and 1,500 annual PurimFest visitors.

He noted that Temple Beth Ami will sell about 400 tickets for the festival.

And those attendees aren't just from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Blazer said that because the festival is held a few weeks before the actual holiday so not to conflict with other Purim carnivals, it ends up drawing guests from as far south as San Diego and as far north as San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Locally, Blazer said, "It's already anticipated by people around the city."

Blazer is pleased to see that PurimFest is already in its fifth year.

"It's a big thing," he said. "This is the fifth year. That by itself is already a tremendous accomplishment."
Additionally, Blazer said along with the Jewish entertainment and bands that come from as far as New York and Florida to perform, it's the one day where Magic Mountain will offer kosher food to the guests, which is prepared at the park by an outside catering company.

Sue Carpenter, Six Flags Magic Mountain spokeswoman, said the park loves hosting PurimFest. She views it as a unique opportunity to expand the Purim spirit and holiday to the thousands of unaffiliated families who want to engage in a family-friendly celebration.

Furthermore, in keeping with the tradition of holding a reading of the Megillah, which tells the story of Purim, Temple Beth Ami will host a special musical Megillah reading on March 20 at 7 p.m.

A week after PurimFest, Congregation Beth Shalom will hold its annual Purim carnival.

The event, set to begin at 11:30 a.m., will feature carnival games, food and entertainment for guests, who are encouraged to dress in costume.

Rabbi Ira Rosenfeld of the Canyon Country congregation said that what makes Purim unique and different from other Jewish holidays is that it "lets people get crazy and silly."

To go along with the fun spirit of Purim, Rosenfeld said he will be represented at the carnival by "Axel Rosenfeld," who he refers to as his long-lost fictitious rocker cousin.

Along with the celebration, the congregation will hold a reading of the Megillah, the story of Purim, that will feature Rosenfeld with his wife Cantor Beth Wasserman Rosenfeld and music by The CBS Band.

Hamantaschen, a triangular piece of dough usually filled with sweetened poppy seeds will also be served.
On March 20, Chabad of SCV will be hosting Purim in Africa to mark their 10th year of celebrating the holiday.

Because Purim commemorates the story of the Jewish people's survival, Rabbi Choni Marozov of Chabad, located in Newhall, said there is a message of keeping tradition and remaining tolerant of neighbors and friends within the message of Purim.

To illustrate the theme of tolerance, Marozov said Chabad has held Purim celebrations to represent countries all over the world, including China, Japan, Mexico and Italy.

With every Purim festival, Marozov said they will hold traditional ceremonies that are unique to that country.

For this year's Purim in Africa, Marozov said Chabad will have an African drum circle, African puppet show and a traditional Purim meal, among the other festivities.

After the celebration, set to begin at 6:15 p.m., the congregation will read the story of Megillah while a slideshow presentation featuring the Hebrew school kids act out the events.

"It's all about having fun," he said.

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