For Students at CU Boulder, Purim Came with Service and Community



April 8, 2024

When it comes to Purim traditions, many people are most familiar with celebrations centering around costumes and carnivals. But one of the most special — and most impactful — Purim traditions is Matanot L’evyonim, giving to those in need.

At the University of Colorado Boulder Hillel, that tradition was the impetus for their Purim event this year. Partnering with Repair the World, a Jewish nonprofit that mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action through volunteering and service, CU Boulder Hillel turned their Purim carnival into a service carnival.

“We thought it was a great way to combine both Purim and service,” said Shira Finke, Springboard Engagement and Innovation Fellow at CU Boulder Hillel. “People are used to carnivals at Purim, and we saw it as a way to make service really fun and engaging, while still reminding people of the traditions and activities they got to participate in as kids.”

There were five service activities at the carnival, each supporting a different local organization. 

Students made hamantaschen for Jewish Family Service. “We made 250,” Shira said. “It was a lot of dough!” 

They also packed hygiene kits for Showers for All, an organization that distributes hygiene supplies to people experiencing homelessness. They wrote cards and letters for elders experiencing isolation or loneliness for Love For Our Elders, and to trans youth and adults in need of support and community for Point of Pride. Finally, they packed lunches for a local food service organization called Circle of Love — putting together forty bags in all.

For Shira, seeing students come together to make a difference wasn’t just inspiring –  it was a much-needed way for students to feel more positive and joyful during a dark and difficult time. 

“Doing service is scientifically proven to improve your mental state,” she said. “And I think being able to take joy in the holidays is an important way to remind us — not just students, but all Jews — that there’s still joy to be had, especially when we come together.”

Read more about how students at American University and Arizona State University celebrated Purim this year.