The Womantasch! Reclaiming Purim Rabbi Susan Schnur - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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The Womantasch! Reclaiming Purim Rabbi Susan Schnur

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Monday, February 3, 2003

March 12, 2003 at 7:00 pm 
Admission free, Photo ID required for entrance

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum 
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street) 
New York City

Here's a quick quiz on Purim, the holiday that most of us associate with Queen Esther, costume parties and revelries:

1. Did you know that hamantaschen have nothing to do with a villain's pockets (or hat)? 
They're actually ancient fertility pastries stuffed with seeds, and it's no accident that we still make them in a classically female shape.

2. Why was Vashti was right? 
Would you want to take of your clothes in front of a horde of drunken men?

This is no Purim parody. In a pre-Purim celebration on March 12 at 7:00 pm, Rabbi Susan Schnur offers a shalach manos gift: a platter of Purim insights. Here's the whole Megillah, deconstructed and reconstructed as never before.

Rabbi Schnur, Editor at Large of LILITH, the independent Jewish women's magazine, and a Reconstructionist rabbi, will explore, in an interactive evening, the underlying dynamic of the Purim story. This program is part of the just-launched exhibit Lilith Magazine: The Voice of Jewish Women."

Rabbi Schnur re-connects the holiday with its mythological roots. (Bet you didn't know that Esther is a latter-day Astarte) and helps contemporary Jews understand the connection between the two women in the Purim story and the issues all adolescent girls confront.

"Though previous feminist analyses of Purim have discussed the sexism in the original story," says LILITH Editor-in-Chief Susan Weidman Schneider, "until now no one has enabled us to understand this holiday by melding together Jewish sources, feminism, mythology, baking, and contemporary psychological thinking about women's journeys. Rabbi Susan Schnur's introduction to Purim will be exciting an informative-but most important, it'll be fun for all."

The Womantasch! Reclaiming Purim is taking place in conjunction with LILITH Magazine: The Voice of Jewish Women, an exhibition celebrating more than 25 years of the award-winning independent Jewish women's magazine, on view at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum from through June 27, 2003. The exhibition, which documents the impact of feminist Jewish journalism during the pivotal years 1976-2001, includes fine art illustrations for the magazine, original manuscripts, iconic photographs, and memorabilia supporting Jewish women's roles in the world. It addresses diverse topics such as women rabbis and cantors, women and Jewish ritual, Jewish community, public celebrations, scholarship, health and healing, images of Jewish women, "unheard" women of the Diaspora, intimate relationships, and body image.

LILITH, the award-winning, nonprofit, independent national Jewish women's magazine has been the voice of feminism for Jews since 1976. Jewish women and girls see new roles for themselves in its investigative reports, edgy scholarship, memoirs, news briefs, original fiction and poetry, reviews and resource listings, and a very lively take on traditions, celebrations, and social change.

Museum Hours: 
Mondays - Thursdays, 9 am - 5 pm; 
Fridays, 9 am - 3 pm 
Selected Sundays, 10 am - 2 pm: March 2, 16; April 6, 27 12 - 4 pm: March 9

Admission: Free. Photo ID required for entrance.

Curated tours for reporters/editors, group tours, and additional information: (212) 824-2205.

For further information about this and other programs associated with LILITH Magazine: The Voice of Jewish Women, please call 212-284-2293 or e-mail

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.