Jewish families adapt Purim celebrations amid pandemic

In 2020, Purim celebrations went ahead normally because New York City hasn't yet shut down. But this year, celebrations are happening virtually. 

"Purim is one of the most joyous few days," Rabbi Rachel Ain of Sutton Place Synagogue said. "We usually have a Purim carnival with lots of kids at our synagogue."

This year, Jewish families are gathering on video calls. 

"It celebrates how the Jews in ancient Persia escaped a decree of destruction," Ain said. "We celebrate that despite moments of people trying to get rid of the Jewish people, we can band together and make sure we as a people survive that our religion survives as well."

Shannon Berkowsky and her daughters Lily and Katie adapted this year by putting on a virtual play reenacting the ancient story.

"It means that we can still celebrate a holiday even if we have to do it virtually," Lily said.

Kate played several parts. "It was very fun," she said.

"Purim is a holiday about joy and survival — I think those are two really important things to remember during this pandemic," Berkowsky said. "Just try to find the joy and survive as best we can."

They are all hoping next year they can celebrate Purim with family and friends in person.

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