WHY DOES THIS VIDEO SEEM A BIT WEIRD TO ME? - QUICK COMMENTARY FROM THE CURATOR
The following is a commentary response from YUM’s curator, and not indicative of any views held by YU Museum
Purim is a magical, entertaining, and nearly-always raucous occasion. This seemingly adorable video starts with what seems like an interfaith reading of the scroll of Esther, but quickly morphs into a jolly, alcohol-infused romp of Hasidic men, with some subtle nods to the bottle dance from Fiddler on the Roof (where it originated… don’t kid yourself about it’s ‘authenticity’). Though this video is really adorable visually, it brings up some rather disturbing ideas:
That, in the end, to celebrate Jewishly, one should probably be Chasidic men dancing in a circle, because, after all, isn’t that the center of Judaism? What does this image say about pluralism, tolerance, and the goals for Judaism? What does it say about a ‘Jewish’ view of and expectations for other religions and cultures? What are we supposed to think of the Buddhist monk who suddenly dons Chasidic garb—and a stereotypically large nose to boot?
That Purim is time for celebration marked by stereotypical dancing and alcohol guzzling. This is about on the mark as American vision of St. Patrick’s Day, which characterizes Irish people and Irish culture in an equally if not incredibly pernicious negative light. Some inebriation is part of Purim observance, but it is neither the center nor the point of the holiday.
The short cartoon ends with a salutation for a Happy Purim. That’s wonderful, great, and absolutely in the spirit of the holiday. But I dare say that there are underlying images that are, at the very least, of dubious meaning, and, at worst, portray some negative stereotypes.