Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rabbinic Purim Costumes: Help Wanted

All I can say is this: It takes a rabbi to obsess over a Purim costume.

Thinking back over the past seven years, I’ve been a surgeon, I’ve been a New York Ranger, I’ve been myself but beardless, I’ve been Batman (beardless that year, too), I’ve been Thing 1 (my gabbai was Thing 2), I’ve been Luke Skywalker. But this year, I’m stumped.

My problem, in a nutshell: It can’t just be a costume, I need it to be the right costume.

There is really only one time during the year when the shul rabbi gets to show he has a sense of humor. I don’t mean making a joke before delivering a long, snoozeworthy speech, I mean a real concept of fun. That time, of course, is Purim. (Yes, there are random opportunities that come up during the year, but this is the only one you can count on.)

So the costume has to be fun, it has to say the rabbi really knows how to have a good time even if he spends the whole rest of the year squelching everyone else’s good time. But, on the other hand, he has to remain the rabbi even as he has that good time, because it’s in shul, because he’s going to read the megilah in costume, and because, well, he’s still the rabbi.

Which means:
-The costume can’t be pedestrian, a costume for the sake of a costume, as in the old standby gorilla suit. Frankly, last year’s Rangers costume was somewhat in this category, but the jersey was a birthday gift from a good friend, and it had my name on it, so I used it.

-It also can’t be offensive; I’m not doing the kefiyyeh routine, which some would take very, very seriously. No drunks, no priests, no drunken priests. I would love to go as Obama, but blackface is very out.

-Oh, and it can’t be too much work. Definitely not too much work. No fancy makeup. I dyed my hair pink one year, and that wasn’t too bad, but it got all over everything.

-And it can’t be expensive. That Batman outfit was good, but it was a very expensive rental. I’m not going that route again.

So what are my options this year?

I thought about shaving again this year, and going in drag; it would be good for some surprises and laughs, and there is plenty of halachic material supporting that sort of costume for Purim. But I don’t really need to have my community psychoanalyzing me for weeks afterward.

I thought about sticking pictures of mini-hamentashen and mini-megilot all over myself and going as Purim Katan. I also thought about having my wife go with a big number 1 on her, and me with a big number 2 on me along with pictures of Megilot and Hamantashen, and we could have been Adar Rishon and Adar Sheni. But while these are cute, they’re just that… cute. And way too rabbinic. Eh.

So as of now, I’ve got nothing. Any help would be much appreciated.


  1. I know someone who once went as a giant waffle. Of course he was matched by the giant falafel and hamantaschen.

    One of my friends once went as the shul president. That is one of those costumes that you need to be careful with, but it can have potential.

  2. How about shaving only one side of your beard?

    Jack: Why would anyone go as a waffle?

  3. How about going as a Purim Torah?
    Sew up a tube of velour and decorate with glittery puffy paint and some fringing. Like so:
    Then you can even wear a crown :-)

  4. goes as rocky. give yourself a black eye and a big bruised swollen cheek. wear boxing gloves and talk in monosyllabic grunts.

  5. Jack-
    The shul president one definitely has potential. The others just make me hungry...

    Which half would you recommend - vertical? horizontal? patches?

    A crown... what every rabbi really wants!

    Anonymous 11:20 AM-
    I'm not sure anyone would see it as a costume.

  6. Wear a burka.
    Be Darth Varder.
    A Biblical looking Abraham.

  7. muse-
    Thanks... but what is "Biblical looking"? Desert/nomad?