Tag: Purim

Adults-Only Purim: Inappropriate, yet Purimly-Acceptable

Cotler, Weisz & Kipnes: Clergy Rockers

We laughed so hard. At Cantor Doug Cotler’s cleverly funny songs, at Rabbi Julia Weisz’s ridiculously hysterical costumes, at Rabbi Paul Kipnes’ inappropriate yet Purimly-acceptable riffs on Megillat Esther, the story of Purim. We laughed out loud, belly laughed. And in between, we reflected on lessons of transcendent importance. We adults, we did.

“It was one of the most unorthodox service I have yet to attend at Congregation Or Ami. I say this in the most positive way,” wrote David Silverstone. “Our two Rabbi’s and Cantor should receive an Academy Award at this years Oscars for their creative and entertaining performance. With out question, Rabbi Paul should receive the award for best Performance in a documentary, Rabbi Julia for best costume design and Cantor Doug who already has a Grammy Award to his credit should now be the recipient of his first Oscar.”

Not Pediatric Judaism… Not Your Father’s (uptight) Shul
Once again, Congregation Or Ami gathered on erev, erev Purim (the night before the night of Purim) for an adults-only Purim celebration. The flyers and other PR were clear: this Shabbat eve would not be appropriate for children. Kids could come to Purim itself for our Multigenerational Purim Celebration. But this Friday night before was reserved for adults.

Not because there would be drunkenness. The pre-service wine and cheese gathering allowed for socializing but to my trained eye, no one really got tipsy (not even me. My ridiculousness came a different kind of high… being high on Purim-induced joy).

The adults-only experience grew out of the need of adults to have a safe space where they can be learners without fear of being teased for their lack of knowledge about the stories and traditions of our people. Creating an adult-only experience allowed adults to give voice to their questions and ideas. Pediatric Judaism gave way to questioning, grasping, and comprehending.

Melinda Pittler explained that “the adult Purim service was nice to enjoy adult only time, dressed in costume and spinning our gorgers. It was fun because how often do we get to see our Rabbis and Cantor with “tattoos, mohawks and wigs” while leading a service?”

The Whole Megillah – Farcical, xenophobic, dangerous
How empowering it was to read the whole Megillah! (Okay, we sped-read through some sections, but for the most part, we read the whole text in English.) We laughed at the farcical nature of the story, making fun of the blatant male chauvinism and xenophobia (fear of strangers). We boo’ed Haman, and the unbounded evil he epitomizes.

We contemplated why all other mitzvot (religious obligations) are set aside for the reading of the Megillah except met mitzvah (the burial of an unattended corpse) (Rambam, Hilchot Purim 1:1). We concluded that the Purim story reminds us of the miracle; focuses us on the danger of leaving evil unchallenged; invites us to focus on where else God is hidden yet present in our lives; and pushes us to celebrate the simchas more than we ruminate over the sadness.

As Nina Treiman wrote, “The adult Purim celebration was funny, yet still educational, because we experienced it through unfiltered lenses.” Robert Rosenthal: The best advice I can give you is “don’t quit your day job”. Thanks for the laughs. We had a great time.

Letting Our Hair Down
So donning costumes and silly hats, we let our hair down and celebrated. Adults being silly with adult while sitting in the sanctuary.

Sharon Weiss wrote, “The adult Purim Celebration was an excellent time. It was great to be in an environment of laughter in our temple and to celebrate together. One of my favorite parts is seeing our clergy interact with each others and knowing they really like each other. I also really liked Cantor Doug’s Politically-Correct version of the Megillah. I walked away smiling and happy.”

Judaism as it is supposed to be experienced. As pure, unadulterated joy.

Chag Purim Samei-ach – Happy Purim!

My Favorite Quotable Reform Jewish Movement Greats

There is a raging discussion going on in the Rabbi Listserve about where are, or who are, the great scholars of the Reform Jewish movement, who are quotable and should be regularly quoted. Since I think the whole discussion is a bit inane, and because it is Purim, the holy day when we can make fun of everything and anything, I wrote the following and sent it to all of my colleagues on the listserve:

From: Paul Kipnes
Subject: My Favorite Quotable Reform Movement Greats

I have been thinking a lot about my esteemed colleague Dan Fink’s post about where are all the shining quotable stars of the Reform Movement. I have been reflecting upon the thinkers whose ideas influenced me the most, as I pursued my studies and as I built my rabbinate. I thought of all the great books we were assigned in rabbinic school (that I bought but didn’t read), and the lectures I attended (and slept through). It led me to identify the great quotable Reform Jewish greats.

I’d like to suggest that we are overlooking some of the most thoughtful, quotable, quoted people right here in our midst.

For example, me.

Am I a shining star? If you ask my mom and dad, they will offer their unbiased opinion that I am one of our movement’s shining stars. In fact, whenever any scholar visits their synagogue, my dad goes up to them and tells them that I am his son. They always say they know me and think I am wonderful (most of those people have never heard of me before). And my mom regularly places me on her list of top 25 pulpit rabbis, an unpublished scientific study rivaling Newsweek’s list.

Am I quoted regularly? No less than once or twice a day, one of my kids (usually when I am not home) – when caught doing something that they probably shouldn’t have done – can be heard saying “dad said we could.” “Dad,” incidentally, is what they call me. Comparable to “Rambam” or “Sforno”. And my congregants similarly quote me saying “the rabbi said we could do this or that.”

Is my quotability a recent phenomenon? When I was a kid, and we would get in trouble, my siblings would regularly say that I told them to do it. This shows that my quotability goes back decades. Plus, it shows that people listen to me and remember what I have to say. And that I influence their behavior. And, another sign I am famous, that there is a hagiography surrounding me: I don’t really think I said all the things I have been blamed for over the years.

Finally, if you google me, my name shows up alot. Not in books, but who reads them anyway.

So stop worrying about whether we have enough quotable dead white Jewish rabbi guys. You have your own quotable boring white Jewish rabbi guy right here.

Oh, and, happy Purim.