Saturday, March 26, 2011


Nearly every year for the past quarter of a century, I’ve thrown a party for the Jewish holiday of Purim. I was moved to do so by an experience back in 1981. Having recently graduated from college, I went to Israel for an extended visit and was living in one Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem and hanging out with some friends in a second such yeshiva. That Purim, I spent the evening of the holiday in my yeshiva and the next day at my friends’. In both cases, I had the privilege of watching some normally straight-and-narrow Orthodox Jews, including rabbis, get shit faced drunk. For a 20 year-old kid like me, the whole experience was mind blowing. Who knew Orthodox rabbis got drunk? I sure didn’t.

A half a decade later, while living in Northern Virginia, I decided that if rabbis could get plastered while celebrating Purim, so could a fledgling lawyer and his then-girlfriend in their mid-20s. Well that relationship didn’t last, but the annual tradition of Purim parties did. My friends and I don’t drink so much any more, fortunately for our longevity, but we drink enough alcohol that certain of my Muslim friends won’t even show up at the party -- in other words, we're not abusing the holiday by behaving like tee-totalers.

As part of the event, I started writing and delivering essays for the occasion. They usually have Jewish themes, though every now and then I’ve strayed from that constraint, as in the year when I spoke about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Anyway, this year’s talk is indeed about Judaism, though I’d like to think that the points I’m making are relevant to non-Jews as well.

So without any further hype, I’d like to encourage each of you to read this year's speech. (Scroll down and click on "Purim 2011".) I hope you enjoy it.

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