A Tale of Two Purims



March 10, 2023

Hillels across the world celebrated Purim this week, each with their own unique flair. We wanted to take you inside two Hillel Purim celebrations on opposite sides of the globe that both brought the Purim joy and fun to the party.

Welcome to Purim at Berkeley Hillel!

As told by Lauren Fleischman, Associate Director of Berkeley Hillel

“Purim at Berkeley Hillel this year was bigger than ever! In the days leading up to the holiday, Challah4Hunger, an initiative dedicated to combating food insecurity, brought together students to bake hamantaschen. The student board organized mishloach manot (special gifts of food that are given to friends and neighbors on Purim) packing, and students read from the Book of Esther, which is often referred to as the Megillah and is read on Purim from a handwritten scroll. Over 80 students came in costume to hear their peers read beautifully from the Megillah. After the Megillah was read, students were invited to pack hygiene bags for unhoused individuals, make masks, deliver mishloach manot, and enjoy a sundae bar. 

Photobooth at Berkeley Hillel’s Purim party!

“But the festivities didn’t stop there. On Purim morning, 50 students joined us as our most popular study and lounge space was transformed into a Seudat Mitzvah, a celebratory meal connected to a holiday or the fulfillment of a mitzvah, or commandment. We served bagels, listened to Purim music, and engaged in special Purim chavruta learning, an ancient Jewish practice of learning Torah with a study partner.

“It was amazing to see our students come out to celebrate joyfully together. Several students noted that it was their first time celebrating Purim or hearing the full Megillah. Ron, a senior, said, ‘It was so fun to hear so many of my peers reading from the Megillah. We booed, we cheered, and we followed along as a community. Dressing up with my friends and seeing everyone’s silly costumes was just so special.’”

Welcome to Purim at Hillel Krakow:

As told by Klementyna Poźniak, Director of Hillel Krakow

“The story of Purim centers around the courage and perseverance of the Jewish people. It celebrates how, despite the wishes of our enemies, our community is still standing strong and growing. 

Happy Purim from Hillel Krakow!

“This year for Purim, we wanted to host a larger-than-life celebration. The original plan was to bring all the members of Hillel Poland together for a virtual Havdalah celebration, which marks  the transition from Shabbat to the new week. However, when we thought about the meaning of Purim and the importance of coming together as a community, we decided to invite Jewish young adults from beyond Hillel Poland. 

“Over 100 young adults from Hillel Kyiv, Hillel Dnipro, Hillel Lviv, Hillel Odesa, and Hillel Deutschland traveled to Krakow to spend Shabbat and Purim together. 

“The program started at the JCC in Krakow and offered tours of Kazimiers, Krakow’s historic Jewish quarter, to all of the guests. There were speakers, games, and time for members to connect and make new friends.

“Jan, a Hillel Krakow member who discovered he was Jewish in university and has celebrated his first Shabbat, Chanukah, and now Purim with Hillel Krakow, reflected, ‘I’m so grateful for the community I have gained here in Hillel Krakow. I always feel welcome and accepted.’

Havdalah with new and old Hillel friends from Poland, Ukraine, and Germany

Miriam Synger, a Krakowian Jewish educator, led the beautiful Havdalah ceremony. Shabbat and our weekend together ended with a greater understanding of the strengths and connections of our international Jewish community, which is the best lesson that Purim can teach us.”

We hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the meaningful, joyful Jewish experiences that students and young adults across the world find at Hillel. From all of us at Hillel, we hope you had a happy Purim!