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Last Year I Learned the Word for Costume

My family’s closets guarded a variety of costumes. They were ready. I had asked eagerly about their choices for weeks in advance this year. I was ready. This year during Hebrew class when the Purim slidedeck appeared, I offered the word for costume. Proud. No hesitation. And, it was not enough.

My teacher answered with, “Le-hit-a-pes.” To dress up.

The reflexive version of the verb ‘to look for’ is. . . dress up. I appreciated the connection because it would make the word easier to remember, but I was intrigued with the connection. How did dressing up and looking for share the root? Perhaps a suggestion to search for oneself. . .

I attended two classes that described Purim traditions. “What does Purim mean?” In the first class I did not know the answer, “What does Purim mean? For the second class I Googled it to check my memory.

'Pur' means 'lot'. 'Pur-im' is the pural form of the noun. 'Lots'. Lottery. A numbers game. It’s all a numbers game. Still, what are the odds?

I giggled, The Hunger Games was on Netflix this month. Not life and death, but still. . . Recently, I won and lost when the odds were in my favor. With hidden identities, purposes, gambling worked better, won more, with misdirection.

My public library holds a special section for holidays and observances. Celebrations are organized in a calendar year. Purim straddled winter and spring. Its month of Adar stretched. Days, like people, pretending to be, to have lines. Sometimes living out what’s expected; other times not meeting expectations.

It was always difficult for me to find a succinct version of Queen Ester’s story. This year, I did not have time to skim those shelves, but chose downloadable pages and video clips instead. I put a picture book on hold and never picked it up. I wish I could retell the words, but I can never remember all the details.

In my office, the ask was made. A filling of your choice. For women. For connection. For Ester. This year’s information I find between recipe instructions for hamantashen. In our office kitchen, somehow few ingredients and words tell a more complete story than the extra vocabulary I cannot remember even after two classes.

Strong woman

Strategic. Miracle.

Save her people.

How many people must I pretend to be to still be?

Are words masks? Behind masks are words true? This is the question my Hebrew teacher asked, “Are people more likely to tell the truth when masked?”

Last year’s blog clung to a feminist thread. It tugged at a hem I wanted just a little longer. To hide. To hide in. Did I take a costume off throughout last year or simply change it? The cloth I know best is vast, simple, capable of so much and ready for so little, except sleep. Another weekend with the cloak, the comforter, the comfort of an old story.

Ester’s story,


Another drink

Numb out the cold.

Whether I was not


Nor do not



Less than

More, importantly,

I’m already hiding.

Last year I learned the word for ‘costume’. This year I learned it’s not enough.


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