“The best Purim service ever…”

Queen Vashti’s Desert Island Discs, a rhyming Megillah and the trial of Haman – a riotous online Purim service

Purim 2021 was somewhat of a milestone in the recent life of our community. Our Purim celebrations in 2020 (which you can read about here) marked the last time we’d been able to celebrate a festival in person. Shortly after last year’s Purim celebrations, the UK was put into lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic and we have celebrated all festivals since then online.

We celebrated Purim during the Shabbat morning service on Saturday 27th February. The traditional Shabbat songs were given a new twist by guitarist Vince Daly who asked us if we recognised the melodies used for the traditional songs – Summertime, When I’m 64 and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Vince Daly led the music with traditional Shabbat songs sang to non-traditional Shabbat melodies

Students and teachers from our Beiteinu school read a rhyming Megillah by Rabbi Laura Zimmerman. Not shying away from the complex nature of the Purim story, the Rhyme concludes:

We must grapple with these texts that are part of our tradition,

So our Judaism can fulfill a very different mission.

But let us not forget the joy as we celebrate Purim each year.

Full of laughter and remembrance and lots of good cheer!

A Rhyming Version of the Megillat Esther (R. Laura Zimmerman)

Good cheer was certainly in evidence during Queen Vashti’s Desert Island Discs in which KLS member, Sandra Webber, interviewed Queen Vashti, played by KLS Deputy Chair and Publicity Officer, Rebecca Singerman-Knight. Queen Vashti told our viewers about how she was much happier having left Haman – and now enjoyed living with her two cats, teaching the piano and spending lots of time on her sofa reading books and watching Netflix. Amongst her chosen songs, she selected “Shout Out to my Ex” by Little Mix and “Vashti’s Song” by her friend Debbie Friedman. You can watch the full interview here (and the full playlist is available here):

Next up in our extravaganza was the trial of Haman. Our B’nei Mitzvah students formed a Beit Din with Rabbi René and subjected Haman to tough questioning – with the aim of deciding whether or not he deserved any Hamantaschen. Haman, played by Rabbi Janet Darley, bore an uncanny, and possibly disturbing, resemblance to a certain former US President – frequently accusing the others of “fake News”, asserting that he was just a “patriot” and proudly sporting a “MSGA” baseball cap – Make Shushan Great Again.

You can watch the full trial here and decide for yourself whether he received the correct verdict:

Those watching the service – which was livestreamed on our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels – enjoyed it hugely, as evidenced by some of the comments received. “This is the best Purim service ever” one longstanding member wrote on Facebook. “I know who the coolest Shul is. How entirely fabulous was this” a newer member commented on Twitter.

Speaking after the service, Rabbi René said, “It’s strange to think that last year’s Purim festival was the last one we were able to celebrate in person as a community before the lockdown. This year’s celebrations were very different but they really showed how strong our community has remained throughout this year of online festivals -in fact, I really believe our community has got stronger and this service demonstrated that in riotous, often hilarious, form! Taking place on a beautiful early Spring morning, there was a real feel of optimism in the air as we can start to look forward to celebrating our festivals together again later this year”.