queer Purim

February 26, 2007

Purim is coming up, and I know that Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) always holds a fantastically queer and social justice-oriented Purim celebration. I also know that folks have been finding saltyfemme by googling ‘queer Purim’ but haven’t been finding anything satisfying (disappointed googlers find a post about growing up in a Havurah and why I hate gay marriage). Give them what they want, I told myself. First I must tell you that Purim is very very gay. Queer Esther and her ‘coming out’ as a Jew? The holiday where everything is turned upside-down, everything you take for granted is suddenly shaken loose from its foundation? Drag. Debauchery. Hello? Queer holiday if I ever knew one. You just have to be around the right crowd.

Which brings me to my announcement. If you live in New York City, I strongly urge you to get out your costume and join JFREJ for what I believe is their biggest social event of the year. It promises to be queer, so I’m told. I didn’t go last year because I was a hermit. I will hopefully redeem myself this year. I’m especially excited because the organizers themed the celebration in conjunction with JFREJ’s domestic workers justice campaign.

Saturday, March 3rd, 8pm-2am

Roti and Homentaschn: The Palace Workers Revolt!

A Purim Carnival Spectacular
Come see the hidden story of Shusan’s domestic workers revealed!
Location: Workmen’s Circle, 45 E 33rd (between Park and Madison)
to Nicole at info@jfrej.org or 212-647-8966 x10

Details: $12 at the door, No one turned away for lack of funds or costume
A raucous Purim carnival featuring outrageous performances, traditional Jewish and Caribbean food and drinks, and dancing to the sounds of klezmer, calypso, and marching bands! Revellers are encouraged to come in costume and see the Purim story as they’ve never seen it before! This event is co-sponsored by JFREJ and Workmen’s Circle in partnership with Domestic Workers United and Great Small Works.

Other resources on Purim as the homo holiday:
Gay Jews Connect Their Experience to the Story of Purim (From the Washington Post, two days ago)
Wrestling with Esther: Purim Spiels, Gender, and Political Dissidence (from Zeek, March 06)
High Healing: A Purim Message (From Jewish Mosaic, March 06) – This is a really fantastic piece – quick excerpt:

Some Kabbalists…taught that in the future days, the only two holidays to remain on the Jewish calendar will be Yom Kippur and Purim – two days that are complete opposites but are both days of sacred transformation. Our ancestors understood that the only way to live with laws is to break them from time to time – or nothing will ever change.



  1. This looks so great, wish I was in NY – But alas, am not moving back to NY state until the end of April

    -Random Jewish Butch Who Just Found Yr Blog

  2. I’m always on the lookout for Jewish butches! Too bad you can’t make it.

  3. Eve Sedgwick’s important essay in queer theory, “The Epistemology of the Closet” is an extended meditation on Migilat Ester as a coming out story. It can be found in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Perhaps the best Queer/Purim article out there.

  4. If you can make your way through the academic jargon to get to the good stuff, I agree. I have a vague recollection of a list of parallels that she draws between gay coming out and Esther’s coming out which I found to be great. Perhaps it’s time for a revisit. Thanks.
    Any favorite parts?

  5. P.S. I’ve seen you around Jewschool, Chorus of Apes. Do you blog anywhere?

  6. I used to blog, but professional and temporal constraints have forced me to take an extended hiatus. Not only have you seen me on Jewschool, but we have met quite a few times. Zap me at chorusofapes@gmail.com to play Jewish geography (its only one degree of separation).

  7. Not entirely related, but I have an article about queer identities up at AlterNet. Comments have been extremely negative. I can’t tell if it’s because they are coming from anti-gender gays and lesbians, or if the article sucks, or it’s just impossible to write about LGBTQ issues without people getting furious. I’d love you to weigh in.

    It’s here.

  8. Cameron,

    I don’t know if you meant weigh in over here or over there. And I’d actually like engaging with the way you framed the article and what you chose to focus on – but not in the blogland. Can we email? Let me know if you’re up for it. Drop me a line at saltyfemme at gmail if you are.

  9. Well how about I get in touch when I move back to NY? I hope the show was fabulous. Enjoying your blog.

  10. I kinda wrote a review of it. I was having a good time; but apparently, several kikes had conspired to piss in my fucking cornflakes.

  11. Sounds more like an airing of personal gripes than a review. And save the word kike for your own blog, it’s definitely not welcome here.

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