In 2017 The Forward named UCLA “America’s third best college for Jews” and the best on the West Coast. UCLA’s numerous Jewish organizations, the availability of kosher food and the school’s Jewish studies program all factored into the decision. As Purim approaches, the acclaimed Jewish presence could not be more apparent. UCLA’s three hubs of Jewish life make it easy to enjoy Purim celebrations on and around campus.
Purim 2018 begins on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 28 and ends on the evening of Thursday, March 1.
“What is Purim?” you may ask. According to Chabad.org, the festival of Purim is celebrated yearly on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which tends to fall in late winter or early spring. Purim commemorates Jewish nation’s salvation in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot to annihilate its men, women and children, as recorded in the Megillah, often known as The Book of Esther. It is typically celebrated by observing the following four customs.
1. Reading of the Megillah, which recounts the story of the Purim miracle. This is done once on the eve of Purim and then again on the following day.
2. Giving monetary gifts to at least two poor people.
3. Sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person
4. A festive Purim feast, which often includes wine or other intoxicating beverages.
Thankfully, UCLA’s Jewish organizations make it easy for anyone who wants to participate fully in this holiday, despite it falling in middle of a school week.
Events of the Eve of Purim, Wednesday, February 28:
During the evening, we listen to the Megillah, and we boo or making noise when Haman’s name is mentioned. People also often throw parties to celebrate the holiday, although the formal Purim feast takes place the next day.
At UCLA, we have various options for hearing the Megillah reading.
JLIC offers the only formal nighttime Megillah reading at UCLA this Purim. It will take place in Hillel at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28 followed by a festive dinner at 7:45 p.m. Thanks to the timely programming, when students finish at Hillel, the night will still be young, so they can make their way across campus to the various parties thrown by Chabad and JAM.
Instead of a formal Megillah reading, Chabad at UCLA will have a Purim carnival on Wednesday night. Doors open at 9 p.m. and Megillah readings are available every hour, on the hour (9 p.m. 10 p.m. 11 p.m. 12 p.m.). The carnival will include an open bar for Bruins above 21 (ID required) for the first hour (from 9-10 p.m.), a live DJ, a photo booth, carnival games and a full buffet. The carnival is completely free for UCLA students, granted they have school ID. Non-students are welcome as well, but they should expect to pay $10. Students are highly encouraged to come in costumes.
A couple blocks away, JAM will also be hosting a party. Like Chabad, JAM will have a buffet, costumes and music. The party starts at 8:30 p.m. slightly earlier than Chabad. Non-UCLA students are welcome to JAM’s event free of charge. Therefore, students can hit all the parties in one night if they want. They can make their way from Hillel to JAM to Chabad.
Events of Purim Day, Thursday, March 1st:
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan of JLIC confirmed that on Thursday, March 1, JLIC will conduct a 9 a.m. Megillah reading followed by breakfast. Furthermore from 12-2 p.m. there will be an “open house fancy lunch with opportunities to give charity and to make Mishloach Manot packages” at Hillel. Bruins will, therefore, have the ability to complete all four commandments of Purim in one short day.
Lastly, throughout the morning, Chabad will hold a Purim celebration and Megillah reading on campus. Festivities will be conveniently located at Ackerman 3508. Bruins can stop by in between classes.
Download Ha’Am‘s smartphone app to get “Jew Swipes” updates on all the Purim events.