July 18, 2019

Purim, IKAR-Style

Members of IKAR Tribe, the congregation’s community of people in their 20s and 30s, turned out to “IKAR Noir: Purim Justice Carnival.” Photo by Steve Sherman Photography

Parodying “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” in a video segment, IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous pretends she is too sick to work. After her husband and children wish her well and head out, she wanders around her blissfully empty home in her bathrobe before calling L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who actually is sick at home.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” Brous says into the camera. 

A couple of scenes later, Brous and Garcetti are dancing to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” on location at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Garcetti in Wayfarer sunglasses and a hockey jersey — a ringer for Ferris’ BFF Cameron — partying like it’s, well, 1986.

Welcome to the spirited “IKAR Noir: Purim Justice Carnival,” where people drank, danced, listened to the Megillah and enjoyed a humorous Purim spiel.

The Mid-City-based IKAR held its Purim party at Candela La Brea on March 20, one of several Purim events happening around the city, from Pico-Robertson to Pico-Union, that evening.

This being IKAR, an egalitarian, social justice-oriented spiritual community, many wore politically left-leaning costumes. Brous was dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. IKAR Founder and CEO Melissa Balaban wore an all-white ensemble, an homage to the Democratic women in the 116th Congress. And a 20-something wore a sign around his neck that read, “Bro, do you even know who my father is?” Asked what he was supposed to be, he said, “A culturally appropriating frat boy.”

Some left politics behind, if only for one night. IKAR Cantor Hillel Tigay was dressed as “The Dude,” Jeff Bridges’ character from “The Big Lebowski,” shaggy hair, bushy beard, robe, flannel pants and all. 

Partygoers at the bar attempted to fulfill the Purim tradition of getting drunk enough to not know the difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordecai. Stacked in a pile on a nearby table were nonperishable food items, noisy enough to be used as groggers during the Megillah reading and to be donated to SOVA food pantry after the party.

The reading of the Megillah was interwoven with a video spoof of the documentaries about the botched Fyre Festival, the “luxury music festival” that never was. In IKAR’s video, people were planning Trybe Fest, where the challah was a couple of lousy pieces of matzo, there was not enough tefillin to go around and organizers faced more problems than the folks behind the latest Women’s March.

“So You Think Shushan Dance,” a live parody of the televised competition show, “So You Think You Can Dance,” followed. Stage right, a row of judges, including Brous, critiqued dance moves by actress Ayla Barreau, who portrayed Vashti.

After the spiel, volunteers cleared chairs for a dance floor. Attendee Jeremy Yanofsky, a congregant of Adat Ari El in Valley Village, wandered around the room, looking lost.

Yanofsky, one of the few to follow the noir theme, was dressed as a gumshoe detective, complete with overcoat and fedora. He literally followed the commandment of Purim and made an effort to turn his own world upside down. 

The 35-year-old drove all the way from the Valley to experience Purim in a new environment. “I just wanted to try something different,” he said.