Woodford Green synagogue unite in fancy dress to celebrate Purim

PUBLISHED: 09:30 07 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:51 07 March 2018

Rabbi Wollenberg and his family dress as hippies in celebration of Purim. Photo: Motti Wollenberg

Rabbi Wollenberg and his family dress as hippies in celebration of Purim. Photo: Motti Wollenberg


A Jewish congregation in Woodford Green donned their finest costumes in celebration of Purim.

Around 50 people gathered at the Woodford Forest United Synagogue, in Churchfields, to celebrate Purim on February 28.

Purim is a festival which marks the saving of Jewish people from ancient Royal adviser Haman, whose plan to kill them was foiled by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter Esther.

Rabbi Motti Wollenberg read this story, known as the Megillah, aloud from a Torah scroll to the guests. He said: “When we read out the name of Haman, we all shout and jeer.”

“This is because we want to learn from history without giving any credence to people we don’t want to. It’s a dichotomy”

The congregation wore costumes, as is custom, Rabbi Wollenberg and his family of eight dressing as hippies.

“The story is about the hidden hand of God helping to ensure that everything falls into place,” said Rabbi Wollenberg.

“So dressing reflects the idea of masking ourselves to symbolise the hidden hand of God.”

The children attending were due to be entertained in a “mad science party” but this fell through when the Beast from the East stranded the performers in Colchester.

“Everybody stepped up,” added Rabbi Wollenberg.

“It was a little bit challenging with the weather.”

He added: “Purim is a very fun festival.

“We don’t have the same restrictions as other festivals.”

Rabbi David Hulbert joined the celebrations dressed as a pirate after the snow also scuppered Purim plans at East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue congregation.

Commenting on Rabbi Wollenbeg’s reading of the Megillah, Rabbi Hulbert said: “He did it magnificently as always.”

Both Rabbi Hulbert and Rabbi Wollenberg were awarded prizes for their fancy dress efforts.

Another custom in Purim is to give charity and so the congregation also made parcels to donate to Jewish care homes for the blind and disabled: Milne Court, in South Woodford, and Hillary Dennis Court in Wanstead.

The festival began in the evening of February 28 and ended in the evening of March 1 this year.

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