Purim Does Drag

Anyone who has ever been to a proper Purim celebration knows that a good Purim party could never be a drag, but for much of Jewish history, it was the only holiday when Jews could do drag. Though cross-dressing was generally forbidden by the rabbis and scholars of our traditional sources, they made an exception for Purim. (If checking traditional sources is your thing, you can find more on this in the Shulchan Arukh.)

To celebrate Purim this year, we bring you two very different Purim-themed, drag-related stories.

The first is a retelling of the Purim story… by some very funny drag queens. The Purim story as you’ve never heard it before!

Check out part one here:

And part two here:

Plus, check out “High Healing: A Purim Message,” a 2006 send-up dvar torah by the Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross, the drag persona of Amichai Lau-Lavie. The piece originally ran as a part of the Torah Queeries collection. The Rebbetzin was writing about the Conservative movement before the decision to ordain out gay and lesbian rabbis, and her writing delivers the promised “kick in the tuchis!”

High Healing: A Purim Message

This morning, just after a fitting for my Purim gown, I visited the “closed-door” meeting of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, a rather tedious affair, even with the agenda focused on as flamboyant an issue as gay rights. As an observant, Orthodox woman, I was pleased to observe the moral leadership of the committee’s rabbis, and I was impressed with their deep commitment to Jewish law. How well they take care of Judaism, I noted, and yet, I also wondered to myself, how well are they taking care of the Jews?

Perhaps the Conservative Movement’s rabbis can learn a lesson about responding to people’s need for modernity from Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel’s former Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi and my esteemed friend, who held a press conference this morning in Tel Aviv to promote a new Kosher McDonalds chain in Israel. The new restaurants will have blue signs, not the usual red, making it easier for those of us who keep kosher and are starved for new attractions to locate these safe dens in Israel’s malls. Rabbi Lau said: “Blue is the sky, blue is the prayer shawl. Blue is the flag of Israel. Blue is not red. There must be a clear difference, a sharp difference.”

Posted on February 22, 2013

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