Photo Credit: From the Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
Subversive Purim

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:

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“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…

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