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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bedford Middle School Becomes Purim Party Playground

 Bedford Middle School Becomes Purim Party Playground
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Westport, CT – The sun-drenched cafeteria space at Bedford Middle School became a Purim playground midday Sunday as the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism celebrated the Jewish holiday.

The space at 88 North Avenue was a blur of activity, with a party agenda that included a full lunch spread, a short play telling the Purim story performed by congregation members and a range of carnival-style activities from golf putting, shuffleboard and pop-a-shot to crafts like paper crown and hamantaschen pastry making.

The 45-year-old non-theistic congregation is part of the Humanistic Judaism movement with a mission to celebrate Jewish identity and human dignity. “We don’t have a dedicated facility,” said congregation president Dana Preis, “but have an ongoing relationship with Westport schools and other facilities. We hold Sunday school classes at Bedford Middle School, so the Purim Party is an extension of that.”

Like the Pied Piper, Dylan Cotton, a music teacher associated with the congregation, led children ages 9 to 12 from their Sunday school class down into the cafeteria. He strummed a guitar while the children, in colorful costumes, marched behind. They were joined by parents and family and all sat at long tables for the play performance, conducted from a low riser.

The play related the biblical story of the evil Haman and his plot to destroy the Jewish people, and how that was foiled by Esther and her cousin Mordecai. Tradition dictates that when Haman’s name is mentioned during the storytelling that listeners are to make distracting noises. In this case, the gathering shook boxes of dry macaroni. The boxes were collected afterward for donation to a local food pantry.

A raffle was also held, offering two free children’s tickets to the Congregation’s Passover Seder on April 7 at Fairfield’s Vazzy’s 19th Hole.

“This is a great way to learn about the holiday while having some family fun at the same time,” remarked parent Kurt Zeppetello, from Monroe.  

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