Community celebrates joyous and safe Purim at Chabad’s ‘Purim in the Arctic’

Monroe. The event, held at the American Legion Hall and Pavilion in Monroe, attracted participants from across Orange County.

| 01 Mar 2021 | 01:38

The Jewish holiday of Purim was celebrated “Arctic Style” with more than 150 participants enjoying a creative and COVID-safe event at Chabad’s “Purim in the Arctic” party.

“Purim is one of the holidays that children and adults alike anticipate - we knew we had to think out of the box and find a way to celebrate in a special way, despite the pandemic challenges,” said Chana Burston, who co-directs Chabad of Orange County with her husband, Rabbi Pesach. “We have two realities we’re dealing with — Covid and the cold — and we decided to embrace them both.:

“The challenges this year may have changed,” the rabbi added, “but the message of Purim remains the same: There’s always light —there’s always a way to find light within the challenge. No matter the circumstances, the Jews have found ways to overcome and celebrate, and this year is no different.”

Masks are a tradition on Purim

The event attracted participants from across Orange County, and was held at the American Legion Hall and Pavilion in Monroe. The traditional Megillah scroll was read indoors, while participants sat in pods and wore masks. Masks are a tradition on Purim, but this year it was a CDC obligation.

Rabbi Pesach, wearing an Eskimo costume, welcomed the crowd. Chana Burston, dressed as a Snow Queen, handed costume prizes and activity bags to children and teens.

Families enjoyed taking their photo in the arctic photo spot with a vintage wooden sled and winter scenery.

The party continued in the outdoor pavilion, where families enjoyed an “Arctic menu” of hot stews, soups, kugels, desserts and hot cocoa. A camp fire added warmth as well as the opportunity to roast marshmallows.

Mad Science of the Hudson Valley wowed the audience with an interactive “Ice and Fire Show” with dry ice “magic potions,” color changing solutions and fizzy floating bubbles.

Guests were gifted with “Mishloach Manot” food packages to exchange with a friend for the Purim mitzvah.

Becky Benezra of Monroe, who attended the party with her family: described the experience: “It was so nice to celebrate and socialize in a safe way that was also very personal and fun.”

About Chabad of Orange County

Chabad of Orange County offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, contact Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston, directors, at 845-782-2770, or visit

About Purim
Billed as the most joyous date on the Jewish calendar, the daylong holiday commemorates the nullification in 356 B.C.E. of a Persian decree calling for the extermination of the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire as told in the biblical Book of Esther.
In addition to the observances of the holiday, a traditional custom is dressing up in costumes and masks, to recall that the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural events.
The celebration offers opportunities to observe the four mitzvot—observances—of Purim, including hearing the Megillah—the Purim story as handwritten in the Book of Esther by an expert scribe on parchment; exchanging gifts of food; giving charity to the needy and enjoying a festive holiday meal.