Visitors from other communities joined families and friends from the Tayside and Fife Jewish Community for a full day of activities in the St Andrews University Chaplaincy Centre – a walking tour, SCoJeC’s famed bagel lunch, our quarterly Council meeting, and then a fancy-dress pre-Purim party.
It was a bright clear Sunday morning – perfect weather for the walk around the beautiful city of St Andrews, which was led by Emily Michelson from the Tayside and Fife community, who teaches at St Andrews University and is also their honorary Jewish Chaplain.
The Purim party – at which we had one Esther, one Mordechai, and several other people in less identifiable fancy dress – started with the telling of the Purim story in a new way.
Rather than just reading the story from the Book of Esther, we sat in a circle and took turns to bring the Purim story to life, everyone stamping and shouting in the traditional way when the name of Haman was mentioned. It was a great memory test – it’s so important to interweave the various strands of the story in the right order, otherwise it doesn’t hang together, so there were lots of interruptions and laughter (“Meanwhile, back at the palace …”), and people forgetting the ‘next bit’ and passing the story on to the next person. But amongst us all, and with lots of help from a few particularly well informed members of the gathering, we reached the end of the story, and the instruction to celebrate – which everyone did with gusto!
After more food (of course!) – everyone enjoyed hamantaschen, rugelach, and strudel that had come over from Glasgow with the SCoJeC team – the winners of the fancy dress competition mysteriously emerged: Hannett as Princess Esther, Ash Alexander as Mordechai, and Alan Kay as ‘Sanity Claus’. And finally the proceedings ended with a particularly buoyant game of musical chairs, won in the end by Ezra Michelson.
For one new Jewish family who had just arrived in the area, it was an excellent opportunity to meet other local Jewish people, and to share their experiences and concerns, both informally over lunch and later during the Council meeting, and then to participate in a lively and entertaining party. As Liza told us afterwards: “We had such a great time and really enjoyed making new friends in our community. Very uplifting and such a joy!”