Whodunnit: Hillel throws murder mystery-themed Purim Palooza


Photo courtesy of David Brondfield

Members of Kent State Hillel in their costumes for Purim Palooza March 6. There was food, games, entertainment and a murder mystery theme.

Alyse Riffer, Reporter

Hillel staff and student leaders greeted students to a decorated ballroom balcony in the Student Center for a Purim celebration March 6.

The two co-vice presidents of Jewish life at Hillel, Scout Stone, a sophomore middle childhood education major, and Emily Dubin, a sophomore psychology major, took the reins in executing the event, along with the help of a small committee to help plan decorations, food and a fun time.

Because the theme changes every year, this year party planners chose a murder mystery as the theme of this year’s Purim Palooza.

“In America, Hanukkah is the big thing and it’s to compete with Christmas,” Stone said. “However, in Israel … Purim is all out, everybody’s dressing up … it’s a very big deal, so it’s always fun to see us party it up in Ohio.”

The night started with a social gathering and invited everyone to grab a plate from the vegan, gluten-free pasta bar along with some traditional Jewish staples like matzo ball soup and hamantaschen cookies.

Along with decorated tables and a photo booth, partygoers lined up tables with crafting supplies to make masks and crowns.

Students dressed up in a variety of costumes ranging from a t-rex to the Mandalorian to participate in a costume contest.

Dubin said she loved seeing everyone’s creativity with their costumes and pointed out the importance behind the notion of dressing up on Purim.

“Because [the Jews in Shushan] hid their identity, we’re supposed to hide our identity by wearing masks,” Dubin said.

Dubin said Jews celebrate the holiday as a remembrance of the story in which Esther revealed her identity as a Jewish woman to

Students at Hillel’s Purim Palooza reenacted a remembrance story to celebrate the Jewish holiday March 6. The audience interacted with the story as the play went on. (Photo courtesy of David Brondfield)

King Ahasuerus despite her fear of being persecuted. This brave action saved herself and the Jewish people of Shushan from the cruel plan of Haman to execute them.

Party planners and volunteers from the audience reenacted this story of Purim.

During the play, attendees booed whenever anybody said Haman’s name as he portrays the bad guy in the story.

Stone said that Haman, the king’s vizier, created the plan after Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, refused to bow to him.

If not for Esther, the king’s new wife, King Ahasuerus would have proceeded with bringing Haman’s plan into action.

Once the scene came to an end, attendees guessed who had killed Haman in regards to the “whodunnit” theme.

In the end, Stone revealed that King Ahasuerus killed Haman and his family because his love for Esther trumped any loyalty to his advisor.

“He essentially saves the Jews, but we say Esther saves the Jews by being brave enough to come out to the king,” Dubin said.

The night concluded with a rendition of “We Don’t Talk about Haman” in reference to Disney’s hit song from “Encanto.”

Because Jews follow the lunar calendar, the day of celebrating Purim changes every year. But Dubin says the annual event for Hillel usually takes place in March.

“I just want to thank everybody for coming and helping us to make this so fun and a big party,” Dubin said. “Especially for a Monday night, around midterms, we were so happy how many people came.”

Alyse Riffer is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].