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Costumed as Our Greatest Fears for Purim

Come Saturday night and Sunday, Jewish homes, parties and synagogues will be full of sugared-up little Queen Esthers, superheroes and other assorted costumed children, clad in their Purim guises.

I’ve never been the kind of mom willing, or able, to sew artfully constructed costumes with complicated details. When I was in Boro Park once the Sunday before Purim, I was excited to go to one of the Purim stores that pop up before the holiday there, thinking we’d find all sorts of cool get-ups. But the store had only a range of bride-like Queen Esther costumes for the girls, a range so limited that it was perhaps as predictable as it was disappointing. Usually, when my kidlets start wondering aloud what they’ll be for Purim, they’re most likely to hear “go check what’s in the dress up box,” where they choose from clown, hippie, Rasta and Hasidic garb to put on.

I don’t usually dress up for Purim myself, but last year, I had more time to think about the inner meanings of Purim while I studied the holiday in classes at Drisha, a center for women’s Torah learning in Manhattan. So on my way home I stopped on Atlantic Avenue, a focal point for New York’s Arab community, and bought everything I needed to dress in full purdah. Covered head to toe in abaya and niquab, I went to shul to hear the reading of Megillat Esther, and wrote about it here.

The practice of hiding oneself on Purim, is, historically speaking, of recent vintage.

According to Wikipedia:

One of my favorite aspects of Purim is its psychological angle, and when a mom this week posted on a local parenting listserv looking for a “cool Purim party” for her 3-year-old, she described her daughter as wanting “to dress up like a tiger so she can get over fearing him.”

I love that idea – dressing for Purim not just to be pretty or cool or witty, or to reflect a character in the Purim story, but to reflect our greatest fears.

And I wonder – if you were going to dress up as your greatest fear, what would you be wearing?

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