Haley Smith ’18: Pre-Israel, Purim Prep

Costume parties have never really been my forte, but I’ve learned to accept them as they occupy a surprisingly large amount of my social calendar in b-school. So, when I learned that our first night in Israel was the celebration of Purim and that costumes were highly recommended by our trip leaders, I felt like it was par for the course.  No part of me doubted that Purim was a legitimate holiday and that celebrating it was very normal.  A significant part of me doubted whether or not costumes were truly necessary for said celebration.

Regardless of the validity of the costume requirement, it’s better to be safe than sorry – I needed a costume. As any well-seasoned Business School student will tell you, costume strategy requires tradeoffs.  Be clever, but not so clever that most people don’t really get it.  Be comfortable, but nice enough to get in anywhere. Make it look like a real costume, but avoid dedicating too much suitcase space to the costume as the trip is 10 days.  Solving for one of these is hard.  Solving for all of these (especially in under 24 hours, for under $20) requires a small miracle.

Given that it was recently International Women’s Day, was there a strong female I could channel for my costume? Could I incorporate Purim history for extra ‘clever’ points?  Turns out, yes and yes.  Purim celebrates an incredible, brave, and strong woman – Esther.  For those of you unfamiliar with Esther, here is the abridged version:

It is roughly 470 B.C. and Israel is under the rule of King Ahaseurus (who generally owns everything between India and Ethiopia, by the way). As the King is searching for a new Queen, Esther is chosen as a potential candidate because of her great beauty.  Beyond her physical form, she is also wise and humble, which wins her the King’s great favor and the role of Queen.

As Esther assumes her new role, Haman, King Ahaseurus’ right hand man, develops a hatred for the Jews and is able to convince the King to kill all the Jewish people under his reign. Unbeknownst to either the King or Haman, Esther is a Jew.  These are her people.

Though she has found favor with the king, Esther is unsure how to respond to this decree. At that time in history, anyone who approached the King without being summoned risked a high likelihood of being executed; requesting the King to revoke a decree would have felt like certain death.  Should she remain quiet and save her lineage, or speak up – likely dying herself but potentially saving her people?

In her distress, Esther seeks the counsel of her uncle, Mordecai – whose answer is definitively that she must risk her life for the opportunity to save her people. ‘For who knows that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this’ Mordecai asks her, reminding her of the responsibility that comes with power and resources.  What if this is the whole reason you were chosen? What if this is your purpose?  Esther successfully appeals to the king, rescuing her people from destruction.

Unfortunately, costumes of Esther weren’t easy to come by in the states – so my costume for Purim is still TBD. But the inspiration of a strong woman – costume party or not – is always in style.

Haley Smith ’18

Israel – Section A

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