This image, circa 1940, from the Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, is “Children in a Purim play at Temple Emmanuel in Duluth.”
The text below the image describes Purim thusly:
“Purim is a religious holiday that celebrates the defeat of Haman, the Persian minister who plotted the annihilation of the Persian Jews.”
See? It was a local thing, an internal Persian affair, if you will. These folks have no stomach for threats of global annihilation. It was in a far, far away place, a long, long time ago, and that’s that.
Then the text reveals:
“It is a holiday marked by re-enactments of the story and subversive merry-making.”
Seriously? “subversive merry-making”?
I googled the phrase as a whole and it only exists on the collection’s page for this image and in a bizarre text on the Nation website.
The Dictionary.com definitions for “subvert” are:
1. to overthrow (something established or existing).
2. to cause the downfall, ruin, or destruction of.
3. to undermine the principles of; corrupt.
I can’t imagine what went on in the Purim parties of those Upper Midwest folks…