Purim shpiel kicks off time to eat, drink and be merry

first_imgWOODLAND HILLS – Wearing appropriate disguises to get them in the mood, members of the Temple Kol Tikvah Chorale will raise their voices tonight during a Purim shpiel based on the 19th century operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Purim shpiels – Yiddish for “skits” – are a highlight of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins at sundown today. So are the carnivals, where masked and costumed children roam and eat triangular, poppy seed or fruit-filled sweet pastries known as hamantaschen. The Megillah – or scroll – of Esther is the basis for Purim shpiels, a Jewish tradition since the 15th century. They have evolved to clever parodies based on music from the Beatles to country-western songs, Irish ditties to operettas. “Purim celebrates the resistance of the Jews over the evil tyrant, Haman. The shpiel is the story of Purim acted out and Haman’s name is drowned out,” said Rabbi Jan Offel from Temple Kol Tikvah. “Purim is the traditional time in Judaism, not Hanukkah, to send gifts to family and to the poor.” Purim is all about feasting, drinking – responsibly, Offel admonished – and celebrating in a wild and crazy way for one day. The good-over-evil plot is also about hidden identities, including the fact that God’s name is never mentioned in the story. Kol Tikvah Chorale has its own concealed identity; about half of the nearly 30 members are made up of five family units. “It’s not usual at all to have so many family members (in a choir). We blend so well,” said alto Robin Thomson, whose daughter, Skylar, and sister and brother-in-law, Stacey and Donald Sternberg, are also singers. Thomson credits musical director Tova Morcos-Kliger and their 2 1/2 weekly rehearsals – for much of the choir’s magic. “She’s tough and she wants us to be perfect,” Thomson said. “We look at the music and say, `there’s no way.’ She tells us what the story is about and step-by-step we learn it and we end up loving it.” The Kol Tikvah Chorale has developed into a family of its own, said Donald Sternberg, attorney by day and singer anytime. “I think we sing better because of that close familial connection. There is something different about singing religious music and when you combine that with singing with your own family, everybody draws on that energy,” said Sternberg, whose enthusiasm for singing in the choir convinced his family members to join. Sternberg has been elated when members of the congregation, some with tears in their eyes, profusely thank him after a High Holy Day or Shabbat service. “There’s a deep meaning when we perform. What we do has heightened the services for us, too,” Sternberg said. “I can’t help but be taken to a different level when I’m singing in this choir.” Gilbert and Sullivan Purim shpiel, 7 p.m. today, Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. Megillah reading, 10 a.m. Sunday; carnival, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Call (818) 348-0670 or see www.koltikvah.org. [email protected] (818) 713-3708160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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