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Family Holidays

Celebrating Purim by Dancing with Orly Star


Orly Star is an Israeli dance teacher with more than 20 years of experience, teaching kids and adults of all ages throughout Los Angeles. Star hosts “Dance with Orly” sessions on Wednesday nights at Adat Shalom (3030 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles), and amps things up for holidays and is eagerly anticipating her annual Purim dance party on March 8. For info: DancewithOrly.com. 

What Does Purim Mean to You? 

Purim means many things to me including miracle, hope, truth, justice, resilience, celebration, and community. 

What is Your Favorite Purim Tradition? 

Dressing up because everyone is on common ground regardless of financial or social stature which leads to giving to the needy. A community survives through the strength and support of each other yet we must also lift each other up to thrive! 

How Did You Celebrate Purim Growing Up? 

I was born in Israel. I can only recall dressing up for school and eating hamantaschen. Perhaps this is why I make it a point to have festive parties and celebrations at my sessions. As we get older we tend to lose that beautiful, essential thread to the cloth of our culture. These holidays are not just for children to engage in but should be celebrated by all communities – from generation to generation – to sustain history and further create memories that enhance our experience! 

What’s Your Favorite Costume (Then and Now)? 

I have been Queen Esther, Haman, and Mordechai, but for some reason I enjoy most being a jester or clown of sorts. I do love to entertain and make people smile! 

How Do You Celebrate Now? 

I have a party in my dance class. It is an Israeli dance class, but we try to add some decorations and refreshments. Of course we encourage the students to wear costumes but it is too difficult to dance in one all night and we tend to have an older crowd with ages ranging from 30 to 70, most in the 50s. Our attendance is roughly 65-90 students per week. During the party, we spend 10 minutes having everyone sit together. I provide them with Purim props/accessories and pass out hamantaschen. We sing along to a few Purim songs and take some fun photos! We then continue with the dance session per usual. 

Why Do People Attend? 

Ultimately people attend because they feel connected to their Jewish community in the States and abroad as each song has a specific choreographed dance routine and it is fine the same way when played at all sessions around the world. The music and dance connects us to our Jewish roots – through the steps, the Israeli music and holding hands in unity as we dance. Of course there is always the physical discipline of exercise that helps attendance!

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