About Purim

Purim is a favorite Jewish holiday for feminists, young people, queer folks, and party animals of all stripes. Purim's narrative, the Book of Esther (aka the megillah), tells a tale of a foolish king, a woman refusing to dance naked for all the king's men, a beauty pageant, a secret revealed, and a time of tables-turning on the bad-guy known as Haman (may his name be blotted out)! The holiday calls for noisemaking, rule-breaking, binary-blurring and an end to business as usual. All of those elements come together in a traditional folk play called a Purimshpil.

For almost 20 years (up until the Covid-19 pandemic), our legendary annual Purimshpil, produced in collaboration with the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee and Great Small Works, entertained, and inspired over a thousand people who sang and danced in celebration of Jews and our legacies of resistance to injustice. Scores of artists, activists and volunteers create and performed the shpil — building sets, sewing costumes, and writing scripts. In addition, we host family events — a children’s art party and parade, or a raucous, joy-filled Kids Defend NYC Children’s Purim Carnival.

EMERGENCY PURIM Pageant/Parade/Dance Party, 2022. Photo by Gili Getz.
Photo of Autumn Leonard holding a sign reading "give me hugs hugs hugs not guns guns guns"
The Kid's Purim Carnival of Resistance and Parade, 2018. Photo by Erik McGregor.
Photo of a the 2018 kids purim carnival march. A group of kids dressed up in costume holding a banner that reads "counselors not cops, glitter not guns"
The Kid's Purim Carnival of Resistance and Parade, 2018. Photo by Erik McGregor.

Over the years, these radical Purimsphils helped JFREJ strengthen and expand relationships with allied organizations including Domestic Workers United, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Mothers on the Move (MOM), Picture the Homeless, FIERCE, FUREE, The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, PURSUE: Action for a Just World, Storahtelling, HEEB Magazine, and the AJWS-AVODAH Partnership. They have brought amazing artists into the JFREJ extended family, including Rebel Diaz, Galeet Dardashti, Blakbüshe, the Shondes, Kol Isha, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Yiddish Princess, DJ Rekha, Frank London's Klez-Brass All-Stars, Maracatú New York, DJ Ripley, and many many more.

To read more about JFREJ Purims past: