What better place to celebrate the most secular of the Jewish holidays than in a historic building that began its life as a synagogue and served as a nightclub and dance hall in its later life?
So in its third year, Columbia’s annual Purim Masquerade Ball will move Saturday to the Big Apple after spending its first two years at Tapp’s.
The ball, put on by the Young Adult Division of the Columbia Jewish Federation, is designed to celebrate Purim, based on the story of Esther. Concealing her heritage, Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, won the heart of King Ahasuerus. Later, when the king’s circle planned to wipe out the Persian Jews, Esther stepped in to save them.
The concealed identity part of the story has transformed Purim into a sort of Jewish Halloween, with masks often worn by celebrants. At the Big Apple, the event organizers will celebrate “the only way we know how – nay, the way we’ve been commanded to – by throwing an amazing party to which all of Columbia is cordially invited,” said Shayna Katzman, who helped organize the event.
The ball will run from 7:30 to 11 p.m. in a building that was built in the early 1900s as the House of Peace Synagogue. It later was an African-American dance hall and nightclub, known as the Big Apple. The building now is managed by Historic Columbia.
As Katzman said, the event is open to anyone. In fact, the organizers hope to draw plenty of people who aren’t Jewish.
“This is our way of reach out to the community,” she said. “We can talk a little bit about the history and increase awareness of the Jewish community, and we can make new friends.”
The party includes gifts, games, music and food, along with an open bar. Tickets are $40 in advance or at the door, where you also can purchase a mask if you feel the urge. Proceeds will go to the group’s Relay for Life campaign and the Historic Jewish Columbia Initiative planned by Historic Columbia and Columbia Jewish Federation.
To buy tickets online, go to eventbrite.com and search “YAD masquerade ball.” For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.