Each of these is an example of an upcoming local shpiel – a play for the holiday that’s generally satirical – being produced for Purim 2017.
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CBINT: Superhero shpiel
Pow! Bam! Tov-Slam!
Rabbi Jacob Herber, of Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid (CBINT) in Glendale, said their shpiel will be related to superheroes.
“We always try to come up with a theme that is fun, that’s meaningful, and hopefully one that another congregation is not using the same year,” he said. “Last year we did Broadway shows.”
For that, members formed a chorus, but in other years it has been either a skit with music or more of a full-blown musical. There could be upwards of six to a dozen people involved, he said.
It gets silly.
“Oftentimes I am the butt of a lot of jokes and I really enjoy it,” Herber said.
One time, there was quite a bit of ribbing the rabbi about his interest in Maimonides in the script. “Everyone in my congregation knows I love Maimonides and I love teaching about Maimonides and his writings,” he said. “In the script, other characters and I spoke about Maimonides, ad nauseam.”
CEEBJ: “Les Miz – Les Megillah”
Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun (CEEBJ) in River Hills started rehearsals on the first Thursday in January and will continue until Purim. A take-off on “Les Miserables,” there’s a lot of singing in the performance.
“Every year we try do a different shpiel,” said Cantor David Barash. “Last year we did it on the musical ‘Grease’.”
Players include Accompanist Bill Hindin, Mordechai played by Andrew Appel, Esther by Jenn Winterfield, Haman by Michael Taibleson, Vashti by Alyson Lippman and the king played by Andy Franklin.
“We take it very seriously. Everybody is miked. We have a sound operator,” the cantor added.
A real traffic light is always featured at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun for Purim – with the color indicating when one should spin their grogger.
Shalom: Mary Poppins
The Congregation Shalom theme is Mary Poppins, but that’s not the big shpiel news at the Fox Point synagogue – what’s news is who’s producing it.
“We switched it up this year,” said Rabbi Rachel Kaplan Marks. In the past it’s been more driven by the clergy and the senior staff team.
This year, seventh through tenth graders are planning the Purim shpiel, she said. They’re making costumes, making sets and have been rehearsing. About 10 kids are involved, part of the synagogue’s al habimah – or “on the stage” – class.
The rabbi said the class is part of their initiative, D’rachim: Pathways to Jewish Teen Engagement, which seeks to engage teens through different pathways, including youth group electives, dinners, and travel, among other activities.
Sinai: “Harry Schmata and the Sorcerer’s Cohen”
Congregation Sinai in Fox Point wants you to have a magical Purim!
This shpiel is a Harry Potter take-off. Sinai picked the theme because they thought it would be relatable to multiple generations, according to Sinai Director of Administration Karen Berk.
There will be 20 principals and 15 extras in the production and the Kol Simcha Youth Band is to perform. Congregant Reva Fox is directing.
“The students of Hogwarts School of Magic travel back to fifth century (B.C.E.) Persia in order to learn from Esther and Mordecai how they vanquished Haman. Armed with that information, they intend to return to Hogwarts to defeat He who Must not be named, an acronym for Haman, also known as Voldemort,” said Rabbi David Cohen.
Extreme ridiculousness is expected.