Eldersburg Jewish Congregation holds Purim celebration at Sykesville KidsZone

SYKESVILLE - Sheri Uffer said there are not a lot of places in Carroll County where her 6-year-old twins - Maya and Gideon - can interact with other Jewish children, aside from Hebrew school.

That was not the case Sunday, when the twins bounced around on inflatable bouncers and donned costumes for a celebration of Purim at Hoppers KidsZone in Sykesville.

The event was held by the Eldersburg Jewish Congregation.

The venue offered a lot of space and room for children to have fun and involve more families that were interested in attending, said Barbara Arbesman, who was director of the Hebrew Learning Center, which has been on hiatus this year but will continue in the fall.

Arbesman is now site director of the "Hebrew School in Your Neighborhood" in Eldersburg, a project of Beth El Congregation in Baltimore.

Purim celebrates the story contained in the Book of Esther of the Hebrew Bible. The story describes how Queen Esther stopped a genocide by Haman, the grand vizier of ancient Persia, who had hatched a plot to kill all the Jews.

Parents said it was important for them to interact with other children.

"It's important, to them, that they feel a connection to other Jewish kids where they live," Uffer said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Matthew Kachura, who brought his 6-month-old son, Cameron, and daughter Brooke, 4, to the event. Kachura said it was important for his children to have people they know that can celebrate the same holidays as them and understand their faith.

"You want your child growing up with people they have a connection with," Kachura said.

Kachura said Purim was a good day for children to interact, because it is a holiday where the customs are not as solemn as others in the Jewish faith.

Rabbi David Greenspoon said Purim is one of the most fun holidays for Jewish children and adults, because it emphasizes celebration and being jovial.

"What's not to like?" Greenspoon said.

Greenspoon donned a jester's hat Sunday, and said in the past that he has dressed in drag on Purim - a practice that other Jewish men participate in as well. Greenspoon, who teachers at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, said that as people get older, their inner-child start to come out on Purim.

For her part, Maya, Uffer's daughter, said she likes celebrating Jewish holidays, as she took a quick break from jumping around on an inflatable slide.

"I like it, but especially Purim, because that is my favorite holiday," said Maya, who dressed as a doctor for the celebration.

Julia Hayunga, 9, who dressed as Queen Esther, said she had a great time at the event as well.

"I think it's a good time to celebrate what happened," Hayunga said.