At Arizona State University, Purim Brings an Annual Celebration That’s Open to All



April 3, 2024

College traditions are one of the most important parts of a campus culture — and Hillel traditions are no exception!

At Arizona State University, the annual Purim Casino Night is a favorite Hillel event for students and staff. With a new theme every year (this year’s was “The Great Gatsby”), students from all four ASU campuses were invited to participate in games, enjoy Purim-themed cocktails (for those 21+) and mocktails, and have a great time celebrating the holiday.

“Casino Night is such an amazing event because of its diverse turnout,” said Rachel Lowenthal (Class of 2024), signature social chair at ASU Hillel. “I invited a few of my non-Jewish co-workers, who had never been to a Hillel event before. Hillel provided a welcoming environment where everyone who attended could feel comfortable and have a good time.”

For Rachel, a senior graduating this May, this year’s event was especially meaningful. 

“I was a freshman in college while COVID restrictions were still active, and because of that, Casino Night was on Zoom,” she said. “Our incredible staff made it as special as possible, but it was not the same. Seeing the difference between then and now, where we can gather in person and see how much the event has grown – has been amazing.”

Because ASU’s academic calendar ends in early May, Purim Casino Night marked the end of “Purim season” — usually consisting of several smaller Purim events concluding with an annual Purim Shabbat — and the beginning of their Senior Series, celebrating members of the Hillel community who will be graduating later that spring. 

“We do a senior toast at Casino Night, and then we really get to start bringing the class together and just celebrating everything they’ve achieved,” said Beth Goldsobel (Class of 2025), ASU Hillel’s student president. “Since we’re so spread out across the different campuses, this is a chance for people who don’t necessarily get to see each other all the time, especially seniors who are so busy working and teaching — they really look forward to it.”

The Purim Casino Night is ASU Hillel’s signature event, and this year pulled in a crowd of about 150 students. 

“More students are showing up in different ways than we’ve seen in the past,” Beth said. “And it’s been so great to see students get so excited and get so involved — you can tell how much everyone here cares. The community is coming together to celebrate, and the fact that we’ve been able to find light in some of these darker times has been something I’m really proud of.”

Congratulations to ASU on another successful Purim Casino Night! Next year’s event is sure to be even better, and we can’t wait to see it.