Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rabbinic Purim Costumes 2009

[Here's a late celebration of yesterday's Link to Jack Day.]

Once again, I am stuck for a costume, the week before Purim.

So I looked back at my "Rabbinic Purim Costumes" post from last year, and found little I could add. In part, it goes:

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.

-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.
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.

(See the whole post here. Make sure to read the comments; they were fun.)

Last year I ended up going as a Lehigh Valley Iron Pig, wrapped in tape and stickers from various hashgachot. That wasn't bad, for a last-minute job. But it's one more costume I can't use this year.

I have a neat costume for our shul's annual Purim Gala fundraiser, which is the Motzaei Shabbat before Purim, but it won't carry over well for Purim; the joke fits well with the honorees, but kids as well as people who aren't "in the know" won't get it. (I'll post a picture if it goes well, Gd-willing. Clue: Punchlines.)

So I'm stuck again. Time to search the JBlogosphere.

ClooJew has a great idea here for a costume that's just a little Halloweeny - but it requires that I get equipment... and that I remember to charge batteries in advance.

A commenter at Frum Satire mentions going as a pregnant nun, which isn't a bad idea, actually. Low-budget, if I just use a black sheet as the habit. Hmm...

Squad 51 mentions going as an economic stimulus package, and wants to know how to decorate the package. Frankly, though, I think a barrel and suspenders would suffice...

And there was a comment here suggesting a T-shirt with the logo, "Bernie Madoff stole my costume." Not bad, but, again, the kids won't get it.

I'm still thinking. Maybe I should just go to the Gemach here.


  1. An enterprising principal many years ago covered himself in a swath of fluffy organza and cotton balls, giving him a cloud-like appearance (yes, including his hat, which was also covered). He wore a sign in front that said "I'm a cloud. I'm supposed to rain on your parade." I imagine that might apply to a shul rav also.

  2. Here's my favorite low-cost, high-impact, theme-appropriate costume, which I've used at least three times (in different cities) in the past: Backwards

    - Wear shirt, pants, jacket, and tie backwards.
    - Leave extra time for going to the bathroom due to pants complications.
    - Wear a full face mask of some sort on the back of your head.
    - Affix dark glasses to the mask to cover the eyes.
    - Cut out the heels of a pair of socks and stuff toes with newspaper. Insert into sandals with open heels. Insert feet through ankle parts of socks, with real feet poking out through the heel-holes and out the backs of the sandals.
    - Unless you do some more work on the feet, the above arrangement will hurt them very quickly. I haven't yet succeeded in this, but you might try creating some strap-on platforms for the front of your feet to level them with the backs of the sandals, where your heels are. Otherwise, you'll end up only using the fake feet temporarily.
    - If you, e.g., stand at the Bimah during Megilla reading, people behind you will feel like you're staring at them the whole time.

    Like I said, very high impact to effort+cost ratio. The most labor intensive part is the feet, and you can skip those and still get at least 75% of the effect.

  3. PS: Possible enhancements:
    - Wear a wig over your face.
    - Wear a baseball cap. It doesn't really matter if it's forwards or backwards.
    - Wear gloves upside-down. This will get old pretty quickly.
    - Enter shul walking backwards. It helps to have someone leading you.

  4. Borrow one of Jameel's waffle outfits.

  5. Yellow rain suit and boots as Paddington Bear?

    And afterward you can keep

  6. Things the kids will get:

    Corduroy (bear)
    -hairband with bear ears attached
    -purple shirt
    -green overalls
    -little bear-face makeup


    Harold and the Purple Crayon
    -All white outfit
    -Giant purple crayon (maybe a paper towel roll painted to look like a crayon)
    -skullcap (no, not a kippah - a full skull-covering cap)

    I personally like this one b/c it's low-cost and allows for lots of silly possibilities, including whatever you want to "draw" with your crayon - a giant grogger, or Achashverosh's horse to ride on... etc. :)

  7. hmm, apparently I'm misremembering on the purple shirt.

    and Harold:

    Apparently harold wore a BLUE outfit in some of the books, too. (My goodness, my mind must be slipping)

  8. Wow, these are great ideas. I am covered (in cotton balls and otherwise) for many Purims to come! Thanks!

  9. As a Jewish communal professional, you should not worry about psychoanalysis should you wear a dress; that happens naturally (as in...who in their right mind would...).

    I would loan you one of my (purim) dresses, but alas I do not think it would fit.

    Sorry I could not be with you and your congregation on Saturday night for the Purim Gala. I heard it was a blast.


  10. Thanks, Mark. Maybe you could lend me a shirt, given the costume I used at the Gala. (Said costume is about to be recycled tonight in a different form, for a costume the kids will understand.)