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    Venetian Masks For Purim

    Venetian Masks For Purim
    At LimmudLA this week, I did an acting workshop where I was asked write and act a scene where I play Esther as Sarah Jessica Parker would play her. Esther was on a date with Isaac (as played by John Meyer). Talk about hiding identity!

    Hiding our identity by dressing in costume is a way for us to experience the Purim story. The story is chock full of people mis-representing themselves and concealing their true identity. Esther is the major incognito who conceals her Jewishness from the King and becomes Queen. Of course, later she reveals she is a Jewess to save her people from Haman's plot to kill the Jews. Other cases of mistaken identity include Mordecai (Esther's Uncle and informant) hiding his language abilities and thus eavesdropping on the plot for Jewish extermination; Mordecai was able to listen with ease because the conspirators felt free to discuss: they thought he didn't know their language. Then Haman (the King's right hand man and striving Jew killer) is mistaken for Mordechai and thus, as it's discussed in the Talmud, Haman's daughter dumps her chamberpot on top of her own father's head! Oops. Shakespeare must have gotten his inspiration from the Purim Megillah.

    This is why we dress in costume for Purim. Two years ago we started selling Venetian masks as an adult costume for Purim because Italian Jews, in the middle ages, were the first to adopt the custom of dressing in costume to celebrate Purim. The Italian Jews were inspired to wear costumes by the Roman Carnival, naturally. But the custom spread and stuck, likely because it is so appropriate for The Festival of Lots.

    Wikipedia has a great page on Purim: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim