The easy hook for Purim tends to be that it’s the “Jewish Halloween,” but that does not speak to the complexity of one of Judaism’s most unusual holidays. It’s one of the few based on a secular story, and as such it’s far from a serious affair, tending to devolve into wild bacchanalia. Besides, though dressing up and making noise is a big part of what makes Purim special, there are so many ways to celebrate the holiday, which starts the evening of March 20 and runs through March 21.
Jewish Gateways Purim party—Geared for ages 1-5 and their guardians. Saturday, March 16 at Epworth Church Social Hall, 1953 Hopkins St., Berkeley. $8-$12. 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
“Neon Purim”—Pizza, music, dancing and more. Saturday, March 16 at Beth Chaim Congregation, 1800 Holbrook Drive, Danville. 6-10 p.m. $5 with can of food.
Purim party for tots to teens—Magic show, balloon animals, make-your-own hamantaschen. Sunday, March 17 at Beth Chaim Congregation, 1800 Holbrook Drive, Danville. 10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Free.
“Purim like it’s 5779!”—Family puppet show, theatrical Megillah reading, music by Shamati, drinks from Fieldwork Brewing Co. and Covenant Winery. Wednesday, March 20 at Urban Adamah, 1151 Sixth St., Berkeley. 6-10:30 p.m. $5-$15.
“Ultimate Purim Party!”—Aquarian Minyan hosts satirical spiel, music by Adama, dance led by Bruce Bierman and hamantaschen. Wednesday, March 20 at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. 7-11 p.m. $10-$20.
“That ’70s Purim”—Young Jewish Professionals event with bar, DJ, costume contest and more. Wednesday, March 20 at Chabad Oakland, 3014 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. 7 p.m. $10-$20 after.
Purim celebration—Hosted by Chabad of Danville and San Ramon. Purim treats, costume contest. Thursday, March 21 at Sycamore Clubhouse, 635 Old Orchard Drive, Danville. 6-8 p.m. Free; donations appreciated.
“Purim in Morocco”—Moroccan cuisine, preserved lemon-making workshop and more. Thursday, March 21 at Chabad Oakland, 3014 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. 5:30 p.m. $7-$10; $25-$36/family.
“Purim in the Theater”—Puppet show, photo booth, face painting and more. Hosted by Chabad of Contra Costa. Thursday, March 21 at Elks Lodge, 1475 Creekside Drive, Walnut Creek. 5-7:30 p.m. $10-$36.
Irreverently Yours: Shushan Queens 2.0—Kiki Lipsett and JCC East Bay present a ribald musical interpretation of the Megillah. 21 and up. Thursday, March 21 at Starline Social Club, 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland. 8-11 p.m. $15-$20.
Masquerade ball—Ballroom dancing and snacks for adults. Friday, March 22 at Beth Chaim Congregation, 1800 Holbrook Drive, Danville. 7-9 p.m. Free.
Tri-Valley Cultural Jews—Secular Purim party with hamantaschen workshop; bring your favorite filling. Sunday, March 24 at Bothwell Arts Center, 2466 8th St., Livermore. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $10.
“Purim Palooza”—Live music by Meshugga Beach Party, food and games. Fitness and aquatics open house. Preceded at 9:30 a.m. by “Family Connections” gathering for ages 0-3. Sunday, March 17 at Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Free.
“Adult Purim Piano Bar”—Billy Joel sing-along plus storyteller Norman Eisley with the story of Purim. Wednesday, March 20 at Congregation Shomrei Torah, 2600 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. 7 p.m. Free; RSVP requested.
Family Purim festival—Program by Diana Shmiana of Shpiel-o-Rama Productions, followed by pizza, salad and costume parade. Wednesday, March 20 at Congregation Beth Ami, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. 5 p.m. Free.
“Purim at Sea”—Chabad of Napa Valley hosts nautical-themed party with kosher seafood buffet. Thursday, March 21 at SpringHill Suites, 101 Gateway Road East, Napa. 5:30 p.m. Free.
“Purim at the Circus”—Circus-themed acts, snacks, games and Megillah reading hosted by Chabad of Petaluma. Thursday, March 21 at Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky St., Petaluma. 5 p.m. $8-$18, or $45-$60 per family.
“Purim in Outer Space”—Cosmic-themed party hosted by Chabad of Sonoma. Thursday, March 21 at Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa. 5 p.m. $10-$18.
“Emoji Purim Party”—Face painting, clown show and more. Thursday, March 21 at Chabad of Marin, 1150 Idylberry Road, San Rafael. 5-8 p.m. $10-$18/person, $45/family.
“Back to the Future: The Megillah”—1980s-themed party with spiel. Saturday, March 23 at Congregation Beth Ami, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. 7:30 p.m. Also March 24 at 2 p.m. Free.
Peninsula & South Bay
“Purim Extravaganza”—Family Shabbat dinner and costume parade. Friday, March 15 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 5:30-8 p.m. $10-$20.
“Shabbat Unplugged: Purim Edition”—No-tech Purim festival features circus crafts for kids and Jewish learning and cocktails for adults. Saturday, March 16 at Peninsula JCC, 800 Foster City Blvd., Foster City. 3-5:30 p.m. Free. tinyurl.com/shabun-purim
“Purim in the ’60s”—Hippie-themed family Purim party. Thursday, March 21 at Chabad of Sunnyvale, 1489 S. Mary Ave., Sunnyvale. 5:30 p.m. $15 and up.
“L’dor V’dor”—Hillel of Silicon Valley’s annual event to celebrate its students and community. Live music, honorees, magic, silent auction, hamantaschen and Purim masks. Sunday, March 17 at Fourth Street Garage, 88 S. Fourth St., San Jose. 5 p.m. $18 for students, $54 and up for others.
“Purim Palooza Costume Party”—Interactive Purim story and more family activities. Co-hosted by Jewish Baby Network. Sunday, March 17 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos. 3:30-5 p.m. Free.
Purim festive lunch—Hot buffet lunch on a Community Tuesday, featuring music, belly dancing and storytelling. Tuesday, March 19 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $20.
Peatot Purim party—Israeli rock cover band plays Purim show, preceded by DJ and costume contest. 21 and over. Saturday, March 23 at Club Fox, 2209 Broadway, Redwood City. 8 p.m. $25-$30.
Purim kids’ show in Hebrew—Learn the story of Purim and listen to Purim songs. Saturday, March 23 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 10 a.m. $23-$30.
“Ultimate Annual Purim Party”—Brazilian carnival-themed party for 21 and over with open bar and costume contest. Saturday, March 23 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 8:15 p.m. $40 advance.
“ETZtravaganza” for kids under 12 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Megillah reading at 5:30 p.m., British-style high tea meal at 6, service at 6:30, Mary Poppins-themed spiel at 7:15. Sunday, March 17 at Congregation Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St., Palo Alto. Free; RSVP required for dinner.
Purim karaoke—Brunch, Megillah reading and drinks. Hosted by Congregations Etz Chayim and Kol Emeth. Thursday, March 21 at Etz Chayim, 4161 Alma St., Palo Alto. 8-10 a.m. Free.
“Purim NYC Style”—New York-themed Purim includes pastrami dinner, pickle-making and musical performance. Hosted by Chabad of North Peninsula. Thursday, March 21 at Marriott Hotel, 1770 S. Amphlett Blvd., San Mateo. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free; RSVP required.
“Night at the Jewseum”—Purim-themed evening featuring San Francisco drag queen Miss Shugana and other high-energy entertainment. Make your own crown and explore gender expression in the exhibit “Show Me As I Want to Be Seen.” Thursday, March 21 at Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 5-8 p.m. Free.
“Shabbat Purim in the City”—Dinner and drinks for young professionals. Hosted by Israeli House and others. Friday, March 15. Address near Duboce Triangle given with RSVP. 7:30-10:30 p.m. $25.
“Gender Schmear”—Purim drag party features NYC queen Lady SinAGaga; first 100 people receive free hamantaschen, shot of slivovitz and surprise treat. Saturday, March 23 at Oasis, 298 11th St. S.F. 10 p.m.-1 a.m. $10-$15.
“Advanced Purim for Beginners”—Free class about “the strangest of Jewish holidays.” Thursday, March 14 at JCCSF, 3200 California St. 5:45-7:15 p.m. RSVP required.
“Shushan’s Bazaar”—All-ages Purim celebration with carnival and “Shushan Rhapsody” spiel themed around the music of Queen. Sunday, March 17 at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F. 3-6:15 p.m. Free.
“Octopretzel Purim Extravaganza”—Kids’ rock band performs. Preceded by family arts and crafts workshop at 12 p.m. Sunday, March 17 at JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. 1:15 p.m. Free.
Purim storytelling in Hebrew—Guest storytellers and puppets from Treehouse Learning. For young kids and families. Sunday, March 17 at Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Free.
Purim carnival and spiel—Carnival for 5 and under from 9:30 to 11 a.m., followed by spiel and all-ages carnival from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, March 17 at Congregation Sherith Israel, 2266 California St., S.F. 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $20 for 50 activity tickets, or 50 cents each.
Purim at Sha’ar Zahav—Puppet show followed by dinner and matzah ball-vs.-hamantaschen debate. Wednesday, March 20 at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St., S.F. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Free.
“Adam’s & Adrian’s Spring Soirée”—Celebrate Purim, Shabbat, Carnaval and Mardi Gras with DJ, food and outdoor cannabis lounge. Hosted by Jewish promoter Adam Swig and Jaffe Events’ Adrian Goddard. Friday, March 22 at Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St., S.F. Free before 8 p.m.; $10 after.
PurimPalooza—Young adult Purim party with DJs and craft cocktail lounge. Hosted by Congregation Emanu-El. Saturday, March 23 at Verso, 1525 Mission St., S.F. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. $15-$30.
Superhero Purim—A “marvelous” 21-and-up Purim party. Wear a superhero or supervillain costume. Hosted by Chabad SF. Wednesday, March 20 at Covo, 981 Mission St, S.F. 7-11:30 p.m. $25-$40.