Tags: Purim

Adam’s Purim Party [מסיבת הפורים של אדם]

Holocaust survivors invite their relatives to a Purim party, where the survivors put on a play abut the miraculous survival of Jews in Ancient Persia; at the same time, they present stories of their camp experiences and their survival. Adam, one of the survivors, and who was a clown before the war, survived because he willingly served as the commandant’s dog.


With this work Walter Freud, a committed Zionist, perpetuated the long tradition of Purim plays: performances that contribute to the festive atmosphere of the holiday. The Purim play traditionally features several figures from the biblical Book of Esther: the Persian king, Ahasuerus, the villain Haman, Ester's uncle Mordechai, Esther, the young and beautiful new queen, and Vashti, the first wife of King Ahasuerus who was banished from the court. Freud’s text freely combines elements of the traditional Purim play with influences from the prisoners’ daily life: a cabaret song about rampant gossip in the ghetto, a scene about the young Zionists’ theoretical love of manual labor, etc. It culminates in a comic opera sung by Esther, Haman, Mordechai, and the King. The work provides us with insight into Freud’s own personal brand of “Jewish humor” and also with a rare look into the daily activities of young Zionists in the ghetto: how these young people, most of whom came from very assimilated families, learned about Jewish history and holidays, struggled to learn Hebrew, and prepared for a future in Palestine.