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All dressed up for JCC Purim Carnival fun

From left, Isabella Weinberg, A.K.A. laughing-with-tears-of-joy emoji (which is pinned to the back of her shirt), gets a teardrop painted on her cheek by volunteer Peri Lowenstein.

Several children dressed as Mickey Mouse, Wonder Woman, a jellyfish, and Princess Jasmine stood in the popcorn line patiently waiting for their turn. Behind them, a goblin was debating with Albert Einstein about the shape of his lensless glasses. A little further away, a laughing-with-tears-of-joy emoji was hunting for her lost tickets—tickets she would use to claim prizes for the carnival games she had won. Meanwhile as Batman offered her some of his tickets, a jellyfish moved ahead in the queue and got herself a bag of hot, buttered popcorn.

The crowds start pouring in to the JCC Neulander Family Sports & Fitness Center's Schayes Family Gymnasium during the center's March 4 Purim Carnival.
The crowds start pouring in to the JCC Neulander Family Sports & Fitness Center's Schayes Family Gymnasium during the center's March 4 Purim Carnival.

All of this happened in a matter of minutes and was but a tiny slice of the action and fun that took place during the Sam Pomeranz Jewish Community Center’s annual Purim Carnival held on Sunday, March 4.

“That was so nice of him,” said Isabella Weinberg, the emoji, as she happily counted the new tickets she had received from Batman. A few feet away Ephraim Lezak, a member of Shaarei Torah Orthodox Congregation, was smiling at the little girl’s enthusiasm.

“That’s my favorite costume this year,” he said. “A girl with a happy face wearing a happy face.” Lezak, who was wearing a maroon and gold sombrero, said that this was his way of spreading joy and gladness on the holiday of Purim. Though he conceded that a child literally wearing a smile as a costume beats pretty much everything else.

From left, Mia Grabowsky, A.K.A. Superwoman, and her younger sister Hannah Grabowsky, A.K.A. Wonder Woman, show off their Purim Carnival costumes.
From left, Mia Grabowsky, A.K.A. Superwoman, and her younger sister Hannah Grabowsky, A.K.A. Wonder Woman, show off their Purim Carnival costumes.

“Do you know why we dress up on Purim?” he asked Isabella after she was informed that Lezak loved her costume.

“Erm… no,” she answered with a shy smile. She knew the story of Purim with Queen Esther, Mordechai, and Haman. But now she was about to find out the reason behind the costumes.

“Have you noticed that in the entire story of Purim, G-d is never directly mentioned?” Lezak asked her. “But even then, we know that G-d is present in the story. It’s just that sometimes he helps people in a hidden way. Purim is about knowing that even though we don’t see G-d, he is the one running the world and keeping us safe and happy. We dress up in costumes on Purim to celebrate the hidden ways in which G-d helps us.”

While Isabella chose her emoji costume because it was fun, other children’s costumes reflected their parents’ interests. Ian Hendricks, 9, and his brother Aaron Hendricks, 6, were dressed up as Star Wars characters, a fandom their father adores. While Ian was a stormtrooper, Aaron was the X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron.

Aaron’s favorite character in Star Wars is Luke Skywalker. He’s proud of that fact and has absolutely no shame in admitting it. But for Ian, the query about his favorite character was a tough question to answer. After much coaxing from his father and his younger brother, he mumbled, “Princess Leia.”

Ian’s hesitation was understandable because Princess Leia is a woman. He was afraid that he would be made fun of if he admits it. But even then, he said that she was the reason why he chose to dress up in a Star Wars costume.

Pictured from left, dressed as Star Wars characters, is Aaron Hendricks, a stormtrooper, and his older brother Ian Hendricks, the X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron.
Pictured from left, dressed as Star Wars characters, is Aaron Hendricks, a stormtrooper, and his older brother Ian Hendricks, the X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron.

“She is brave like Queen Esther,” Ian said softly but surely. “And Purim’s about her. That’s why Aaron and I chose Star Wars costumes. Obviously, we couldn’t dress up like Princess Leia. But we could do other people from Star Wars, so we did.”

Other well-loved characters spotted at the carnival included Brer Rabbit, Tinkerbell, Cinderella, Superman, Goldilocks, and Daisy Duck. Children and adults alike joined in the festivities and got their faces painted before allowing the carnival caricaturist to draw them.

For the more serious and academically-inclined, there was a book sale with hundreds of rare and classic titles offered at reasonable prices. And that was the next stop for many of the fairies and the elves after claiming their prizes from prize room set up in the JCC’s lounge. Isabella, for instance, had her eyes on a copy of folk tales from around the world. Perhaps she would be back after playing one last round of spill the milk game.

Food at the JCC’s Purim Carnival was a big hit again this year. In the Anne and Hy Miller Family Auditorium, Esther’s Café drew a steady stream of hungry visitors seeking a variety of home-cooked kosher offerings.

The JCC’s Purim Carnival is the center’s largest indoor community event held each year. “This year’s carnival was another delightful day filled with food, fun and happy families,” said Marci Erlebacher, JCC of Syracuse executive director. “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to open our doors to the community and see everyone having such a good time.”

 

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