For many people, a feature of Purim is drinking. A lot. In the Talmud, Raba says we should drink until we can’t tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai. But for recovering addicts, that feature is a dangerous bug.
To ensure Purim is accessible to everyone, the Chabad of Macalester-Groveland’s March 6 Purim party will be alcohol-free.
“Many in recovery won’t go to events,” said Rabbi Tzemach Feller, who leads that Chabad with his wife Mushky. “To drink until you can’t tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai, for an addict, that would be far from a mitzvah. It would be the opposite.”
“Purim Around the World” is Chabad of Macalester-Groveland’s twist to this year’s Purim, which commemorates the Jewish people’s salvation in Persia. The festivities will feature an international-themed buffet, mocktails, games, entertainment, and the opportunity to hear the Book of Esther.
Feller said that the Chabad serves four college campuses – Macalaster, Hamiline, St. Thomas, and St. Catherine – so their events are non-alcoholic anyway, which made for an easy transition to a dry Purim.
“Once we had that in place, it felt that the right thing to do was to have this event and open it to the broader community,” Feller said. “A lot of people are looking for something where they feel comfortable and aren’t tempted to be a space where it could be detrimental to their health.”
The Mac-Groveland Chabad is far from the only Chabad location to have alcohol-free events. For starters, Feller said, any Chabad that serves a campus population wouldn’t serve alcohol. But there are others that are either intentionally dry or specifically serving a community in recovery.
“Accessibility is important, and we try to lower the barrier to entry for Jewish life and observance,” Feller said. “For some, it’s affordability. For others, it is emotional or physical barriers. And for others, it’s removing substances for those that have that struggle.”
For more information on Purim festivities or RSVP, go to the Chabad Mac-Groveland website,