Purim in the Jungle
Lions and Giraffes and Hyenas, oh my! A jungle theme ran through the Purim festivities at LifeTown, starting in late February, when teens and adult volunteers were already busy packing goodies to deliver as shalach manot to Friendship Circle families, volunteers and supporters. Snakes and alligators were not invited to the great hamantash bake, but giraffes and zebras flanked the podium for the Megillah reading.
Olivia Rinn, 14, from West Orange, among the first volunteers packing mishloach manot who came to spend Presidents’ Day with her friend Sophie Diamond, said, “It’s really fun and makes me feel good to do chesed.”
By the time the teens had finished their shift, hundreds of small burlap sacks had Purim greetings attached and were filled to the brim, just waiting for Purim to arrive (or to be shipped off to a tropical rainforest).
A crowd arrived at LifeTown for the great hamantash bake on March 2. There were smiles all around as they measured and mixed the ingredients, rolled and shaped the dough, and filled the cookies with chocolate chips and jams galore.
Purim eve brought the first chance to hear Rabbi Yisroel Rosenbaum offer his speedy, potentially record-breaking Megillah reading and to make some noise. He read the scroll again and again throughout Purim as he traveled around Livingston, making stops at Inglemoor Rehabilitation & Care Center and Brandywine Living, with children in tow, to bring Purim joy to nursing homes around the area.
Purim Day festivities drew safari goers and tigers and even some superheroes to boo Haman and celebrate Esther’s bravery. The room transformed into a tropical oasis featuring palm trees and even a monkey or two. Giant stuffed giraffes and zebras listened attentively to the final Megilla reading, followed by dinner and a crazy juggling show to boot. Spirits soared well into the evening, until the last jungle creatures set off to find their dens for the evening.
“Purim is a topsy-turvy time traditionally, but at Friendship Circle one thing that never changes is the opportunity to do amazing things together!” said Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, CEO of Friendship Circle of New Jersey.