Purim Celebration and Multi-Lingual Megillah Reading
Monday, March 6, 6:00 p.m.
Purim with CBST is always a fabulous night of revelry!

Join us as we retell the story of Queens and villains and victory.

We'll begin at 6:00 p.m. with a festive Purim Musical Maariv service, our all-congregation Costume Parade, and our signature multi-lingual Megillah Reading—20 languages strong!
Get ready for a timewarp! In honor of our 50th anniversary and CBST's founding in 1973, this year's theme is "the 1970s!" 🪩

Break out your fondue pots and microwave poached egg makers!

Some costume ideas: your favorite disco outfit; your favorite 70s TV show; bellbottoms, flowers, long necklaces; political or activist figure; favorite gameshow or host; favorite 70s band, artist, singer; soul train and funk. We're excited to see all the amazing costumes!
In-Person Purim Party for Families with Kids!
Monday, March 6, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
At CBST, 130 W. 30th St., NYC
Fun! Face painting! Balloon animals! Pizza and Hamantaschen! And free of charge.

Bring the whole family in your favorite Purim costumes (CBST theme: the 1970s!), win prizes, wear a crazy balloon hat, and celebrate Esther's coming out as a Jew to the Persian king and saving our people.

Watch the Purim story and participate in an interactive retelling!

Pack mishloach manot and design cards with Repair the World that will be delivered to Met Council on Jewish Poverty for seniors living in affordable housing.

Everyone is welcome to join the Purim Parade at the end!

Recommended for kids ages 2–12 with their adult(s). Babies, toddlers, and teens welcome, too!
A Purim Teaching
Dear CBST Community, 

Lately, I have done a lot of thinking about the Jewish calendar. In the spring, we experience 3 mid-month holidays – Tu B’Shevat (15th of Shevat), Purim (14th of Adar), and Pesach (15th of Nisan). With each time that the full moon brightens the night sky, our tradition offers an opportunity for spiritual contemplation.
Tu B’Shevat marks the beginning of the planting season in the land of Israel, and we imagine what we want to see grow in the literal fields and within the soul.

On Pesach, we realize the jubilation, hope, and power of redemption. With these bookends, how does Purim function as an intermediary step? How do we move from the realm of seedlings toward liberation?

Esther 9:25-26 reports:

וּבְבֹאָהּ֮ לִפְנֵ֣י הַמֶּ֒לֶךְ֒ אָמַ֣ר עִם־הַסֵּ֔פֶר יָשׁ֞וּב מַחֲשַׁבְתּ֧וֹ הָרָעָ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־חָשַׁ֥ב עַל־הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים עַל־רֹאשׁ֑וֹ וְתָל֥וּ אֹת֛וֹ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֖יו עַל־הָעֵֽץ׃ עַל־כֵּ֡ן קָֽרְאוּ֩ לַיָּמִ֨ים הָאֵ֤לֶּה פוּרִים֙ עַל־שֵׁ֣ם הַפּ֔וּר

“And Esther came before the king who declared with a proclamation: ‘Turn the evil plan that was intended for the Jews on its head and hang Haman and his sons.’ Thus, the holiday is called Purim.”

This celebration receives its name from the lots that Haman cast to pick a day to kill the Jews. We celebrate how his scheme was turned on its head. The day of our annihilation was antithetically transformed into the day of our salvation. While the hanging of Haman and his sons may appear a grotesque form of justice, the sentiment of the king’s decree remains. Purim is a day of subverting expectations. Esther required her fellow Jews to fast on her behalf, and upon her success, she demanded a day of feasting.

Still today, people observe the Fast of Esther on the 13th of Adar, and they reverse course for a day of indulgence and merrymaking on the 14th. Purim provokes a jarring sensation. In the narrative and in our observance, the celebration comes suddenly. It breaks an established mold, turning something on its head in pursuit of goodness and joy.

The mystical tradition is built upon the notion of opposites. The Kabbalists included a teaching that Yom Kippur is a day כפורים – like Purim. We dedicate both days to “transform afflictions into delights.”1 Furthermore, in the Torah reading cycle, we set aside the week after Purim for a passage from Numbers about how to purify oneself upon seeing a corpse with a פרה, a red heifer.

The Chasidic Rebbe Nachman of Breslov observed that parah and Purim contain the same letters. He posited, “The Chapter of Parah is read so that people will be alerted to purify themselves… Purim, too, is certainly an approach and path to Pesach.”2 Amongst the revelry and exuberance, Purim presents an opportunity to shed excessive aspects of the soul. By discarding that which limits or afflicts us, we make ourselves ready to experience Pesach’s miracles.

Between Tu B’Shevat’s germination and Pesach’s redemption, Purim is the day dedicated to challenging assumptions. As we wear unusual costumes and quickly pivot from fasting to feasting, we question existing structures and established norms that exist throughout our society and within the self. What in our lives requires a shakeup or a rapid shift? Where have our beliefs and actions sunk into a place of stagnation, negligence, or evil?

To borrow from LGBTQ studies, this holiday serves as an opportunity to queer our existence. Esther questions existing categories and hierarchies for the sake of a better future, overcoming her fear. Perhaps, cowardice or arrogance causes us to cling to a bias that blinds us to other possibilities. Misidentified priorities and worries may prevent us from leading the life we hoped for ourselves. Out of spite or prejudice, we may dismiss or mistreat someone, missing the opportunity to witness the part of them created in GD’s image.

As we enter this season of joy, I invite you to reflect upon what you need to turn on its head. Where are the assumptions in our lives and how can we subvert them in pursuit of redemption?

1 Tikkunei Zohar 57b
2 Likutei Moharan 74

We look forward to celebrating Purim together!

Adam Graubart
Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern
Purim art (above) by Karin Foreman
The Four Mitzvot of Purim
Mishloach Manot Send a care package in the mail or (safely) give a gift basket. It can be small—cookies and an orange, for example. It is customary to give foods with two distinct blessings (e.g. fruit from a tree and food from the earth). 
Matanot l’Evyonim Gifts to the needy. Our hearts are with Ukraine today as the country and its people are under attack. This year, we encourage you to support our friends and family in Ukraine by donating to one of the organizations on our resource page.

Mikra Megillah Hearing the Megillah. We listen to Megillat Esther—the Purim story—read in its entirety. Join CBST services in-person or online. Details at the top of this message.

Seudah Eat a festive Purim Meal! Join us for Hamentashen baking. Details at the top of this message.
Matanot l'Evyonim
This year’s tzedakah appeal will be directed to Marsha’s House at Project Renewal.

Since 1967, Project Renewal has pioneered programs that provide health, homes, and jobs which empower individuals and families to renew their lives.

They provide services to almost 10,000 individuals a year. One of Project Renewals campaigns is Marsha’s House, an 81 bed 24/7 emergency shelter for homeless young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Their comprehensive services include case management, vocational counseling, job placement, peer counseling, recreational activities and housing placement assistance.

Project Renewal is New York City’s largest provider of comprehensive health services to homeless individuals—delivering healthcare to more than 12,000 people a year. Donate to Project Renewal here to support Marsha’s House and other vital services.