Casino Night celebrates Jewish holiday of Purim


Junior public communications major Noah Ickowicz reacts as he busts during a game of blackjack at the Purim Casino Night on Thursday, Mar. 5, 2015 in the Kent State Ballroom.

Skye McEowen

More than 60 students celebrated Purim, a Jewish holiday, Thursday with a casino night at the Kent State Student Center Ballroom.

“It’s just a very fun, light hearted holiday,” said Wolfgang Davidson, a junior integrative studies major.

Purim has roots going back to the biblical Book of Esther and in the ancient Persian Empire, Haman, a royal vizier to the king, plotted to kill all the Jews in the empire. The plan was thwarted when Esther, the eventual queen of Persia, was able to get word to Ahasuerus, the king.

The holiday is often commemorated by dressing up in costume, wearing masks and drinking.

The celebration put on in the ballroom hosted many events, including but not limited to Corn Hole; Achashverosh says, a spin on Twister; and Hamantargets, a game involving throwing bags at small targets.

The casino-themed night also hosted poker, which was a hot spot for many of the attendees.

The most anticipated event, according to most of the students, was entitled “Submit thy Hamantaschen,” a judging contest for the best hamantaschen, a traditional Jewish pastry that often has a poppy seed or fruit filling.

Mimi Raizen, a junior theater major, also helped with the event and reflected on past Purim festivities.

Raizen said her most most memorable Purims was when she spent the holiday in Israel in 2013, she said.

“We did actually go to Tel Aviv for the parade, so that was fun,” Raizen said. “At the time Israel had this huge thing about Angry Birds, so there were marching Angry Birds. We had a whole dance party — I was dressed as Katniss. I do like the story too.”

Natalie Schafer, a senior psychology major and lead of community building cohort, was a leader in organizing the event.

“(We had) a lot of bi-weekly meetings,” Schafer said in regards to planning the night. “It’s a very joyous holiday. It’s really about being very happy.”

“The student leaders organized the activities. This was a student-led program,” Assistant director of Hillel at Kent State University Adam Hirsh said. He said he enjoyed the fun of Purim and having a big party.

Eventually, the night came to a close, as the winners of the hamantaschen contest were announced, based on best taste, most creative and best look. The winners made red raspberry and nutella, date night hamantaschen, and casino royale, respectively.

Contact Skye McEowen at [email protected].