There's Purim carnivals, and then there's the Carnival.
The East Meadow school put on quite a show for those who came out on March 20 to join in the festivities held at Hofstra University.
Many sported amusing costumes and masks, the tradition on Purim. Jews all over the world enjoy this holiday with music and song, storytelling, games, symbolic treats and performing charitable acts.
Here's the whole story or as it is referred to on Purim - the megillah. A "megillah" or "megileh" in Yiddish means a scroll; the salvation of the Jewish people in Ancient Persia centuries ago from destruction by a plot devised by the villain Haman is recorded in the biblical Book of Esther.
The students and their families celebrated the holiday as a community, reinforcing the students' Jewish identity and preserving their heritage while also raising funds for charities.
The students' knowledge of the related history is reinforced with activities such as baking hamantashen with A Taste of Home bakery in North Bellmore. The main focus is on lessons learned from biblical events such as the courage of Esther, who risked her life to save her fellow Jews from destruction, the dangers of racism and anti-semitism and the importance of tolerance.
The school's cultural program is unique here on Long Island because of the focus on teaching Yiddish;the students learn Hebrew as well. They also have a children's Klezmer Ensemble that performs music at all of their holiday celebrations.
In their presentation of The Megillah, the children mixed the traditional story of Esther with satire and funny comments. At one point they referred to the story as "The Chronicles of Narnia," which made the audience laugh. The entertaining and talented Klezmer Ensemble played the well-loved melody "A Gut Purim." Popular traditional Purim songs including "Hop Mayne Homentashen" were sung by the children in Yiddish.
East Meadow mom Jane Lenz brought daughter Lainie to her first Purim carnival along with her big sister Hayley. Lainie is just 19 months old and dressed as a bumblebee.
"This has been a wonderful experience for Lainie, who was enthralled by the beautiful raffle baskets on the stage and all the festivities," Lenz said. "She explored everything especially the Play-Doh activities."
The proceeds from the raffles and games support charities and community service programs that are most important to the students of Peretz. The local merchants were very generous and contributed spectacular gift baskets that were raffled off.
The young people enjoyed games of chance like Bingo, which were set up all over the hall. The girls especially enjoyed getting their faces decorated. The most crowded area was the long prize station filled with assorted trinkets for the winners. An authentic Italian Ices cart also was a big attraction.
One special couple came to witness the community's joy on Purim. Milton and Rosalyn Pincus have been married for 68 years and were among the founding members of this East Meadow group. Rosalyn reminisced about how they met when they were just pre-teens at another related school in NYC run by the Workman's Circle.
"I was just 11 and Milton just had his Bar Mitzvah and was 13 and we have been celebrating Jewish holidays together for over seven decades," Pincus said.
Ruth Baran, the school's music teacher, was the song leader and guitarist and has deep roots in the community.
"I've spoken Yiddish since I was a young child," Baran said. "My own father was the Yiddish teacher at the school for over 25 years."
Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer, a husband and wife duo, are musicians who played accordion and guitar, respectively, and led the Klezmer Ensemble and singing portion of the play shared by the children.
The event was a major success for all.