A Night for Community and Costumery
AJA’s annual “Purim Night Live” returned this year with new students, costumes, and AJA schtick. The night kicked off with Maariv and Megillah reading in the Beit Midrash. Students and their families, decked out in elaborate wigs, face paint, and costumery, filed into the Beit Midrash to enjoy Judaics Studies Instructional Team Leader Rabbi Allan Houben’s concise Megillah reading. Making a quick scan of the room, one could notice their favorite Super Mario characters, a mad scientist, a trio of crying brides, a herd of fairies, and the entire cast of Despicable Me.
After all Megillah obligations were fulfilled, everyone rushed to the newly-renovated Homburger Commons. A huge line quickly surrounded the buffet; eager to eat after a day of fasting. The dinner menu consisted of a variety of dishes that are typical for breaking a fast: baked ziti, spaghetti, salad, and french fries. Everyone piled their plates with food and then populated the dinner tables, chatted with friends, and enjoyed the obligatory tradition of blasting Purim music playlists. After eating, the room sang “Happy Birthday” while a cake was brought out for sophomore Leora Frank’s birthday. Afterward, everyone headed to the auditorium to enjoy the main event. Every year in the week leading up to Purim, each grade competes to decorate a hallway in the theme of their choice and create a schticky purim video. Then, on purim night, the grades battle it out to be the best in each category.
The Seniors began the program with their video, which featured a spoof of the conversations that happen behind the scenes at AJA. Students roleplayed different teachers, comedically theorizing what teachers talk about when students are not around. Then, the Juniors produced an elaborate noir crime-drama, with Donny Frances acting as lead detective. The Sophomores created an AJA parody of America’s Got Talent, where teachers and students auditioned for a panel of judges. A notable scene was when AJA Head of High School Simcha Pearl stole fans’ hearts with his rendition of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. Lastly, the Freshmen took the audience on a tour of the school, referencing school-wide inside jokes as they went along.
After much anticipation, the Seniors took home the gold for their video, and the Sophomores won best hallway for their New York-inspired decorations. The winning grades of each competition got out of their seats, screaming and cheering over their victories. The winners were very excited to hear the news; for instance, sophomore Edan Eyal reflected about his grade’s win, saying it “was well-deserved and that ours was indeed the best.” After post-victory celebrations were finished, the crowd enjoyed music and dessert in the atrium. It was not too long before the crowd separated by gender, and teachers and students joined to dance the Horah, the “Cotton-Eye Joe,” and all the Bar mitzvah dance-party staples. Aiden Smolensky, a sophomore, thought that “the dancing was really fun; someone would come up with a dance and then everyone would do it — people got really into that.” Judaics teacher Moreh Eilon, who is approaching the end of his final year as a shaliach at AJA, felt similarly, saying “I really enjoyed dancing with everyone, I will really miss this.”
The night drew to a close as the school community danced, sang, and rejoiced. Students made their way home in their post-party disheveled costumes, marking another year of Purim celebration at AJA.