Despite the growing threat of war in Ukraine, hundreds gathered at the 5 star Fairmont Grand Hotel, Kiev, to celebrate Purim in style at the annual Purim Party hosted by Raphael and Devorah Rutman.
With the room decorated like a circus tent and all the guests, without exception arriving in various circus costumes, the atmosphere was “high” on Purim spirit, as Rabbis and Shluchim from different cities in Ukraine, public figures, dignitaries and representatives from the local and international business communities all joined together to sing and dance, as well as fulfill all 4 mitzvos of Purim day.
The evening began with a megillah reading, using a unique, one of a kind illustrated Megillah by a famous American artist, generously on loan by one of the local members of the Jewish community for the occasion, along with a special Hollywood film production telling over the complete story of Purim for the children to watch.
After ritual hand washing to fulfill the second mitzvah of the day, the festive meal, the guests proceeded into the main circus tent (or ballroom!) to find their places. Once the guests had been seated, they were ready to fulfill the 3rd mitzvah of the day: before starting their meal, everyone was instructed to take their circus box of appetizers which had been specially designed with at least 2 separate brachot. Each guest was then requested to “gift” their neighbor with their box and receive their friend’s in return, thereby fulfilling the mitzvah of mishloach manot, gifts of food to a friend.
In keeping with tradition, the host went around the table greeting and introducing all the guests in their different circus attire, to the amusement of all the guests.
After the introductions, all the guests stood for a special prayer service for the safety and wellbeing of all the Jews around the world and in particular in Ukraine during these difficult times. For the 4th and last mitzvah of the day, Rabbi Yossi Glick, head of Tzivos Hashem youth movement in Ukraine, made an appeal to raise money for the Jewish Orphanages in Ukraine. Young and old alike opened their pockets to give what they could to their young Jewish brothers and sisters in need.
The participants enjoyed a 5 course meal as well as separate adults’ and childrens’ programs, with the evening filled with singing, dancing and different shows. The highlight was, of course, the annual “Purim’s Got Talent” competition, with each and every guest invited to walk down the red carpet while the judges scored their costumes. While voting in Crimea was well underway, deciding the fate of the people there, the local judges voted the “Purim at the Circus” winners.
1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in both Children’s and Adult’s Divisions were chosen, with every child receiving a prize and winners receiving both trophies and separate luxury prizes.
The party continued on until the wee hours, with the guests reluctant to leave as Kiev celebrated Purim in true style.
Many of the guests at the party commented: “for the first time in more than 3 months we have been able to think about something other than demonstrations, roadblocks, shootings and war.”