Staff Report

Roll your own Kosher sushi and enjoy a fine Kosher Chinese buffet while outfitted in traditional oriental attire at this year’s Purim celebration. Purim in the Orient is Chabad of Brandon’s creative twist to this year’s community celebration of Purim, the holiday commemorating the Jewish people’s salvation in Persia of old. The festivities will be held at The Jewish Discovery Center, located at 1578 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico on Thursday, March 24. It will feature a roll your own Kosher sushi workshop for adults and children. In the spirit of Purim you can also roll your own candy “sushi” in addition to regular sushi.

Billed as the most joyous date on the Jewish calendar, the daylong holiday commemorates the nullification in 356 B.C.E. of a Persian decree calling for the extermination of the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire as told in the biblical Book of Esther. Chabad’s original spin on this age-old holiday has helped bring the spirit of Purim to Brandon year after year.

“Purim in the Orient will combine ancient Jewish traditions with a modern twist,” said Director of Chabad of Brandon Rabbi Mendel Rubashkin. “We focus on doing interesting and innovative programs that will maximize the enjoyment for young and old alike, yet still keeping with the holiday theme.”

The event is a community-wide program, and all are welcome to join, regardless of Jewish affiliation or background.

In addition to the roll your own sushi workshop, the celebration will feature a full oriental buffet dinner, live music and a multi-media reading of the Book of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillah. This year’s Purim celebrations bring added significance as Jewish communities worldwide celebrate the year of Hakhel, a once-every-seven-years opportunity to celebrate Jewish unity and learning. Throughout the year, Jewish synagogues and organizations are hosting communal gatherings for men, women and children dedicated to encouraging Jewish observance.

“The event is focused primarily on spirit, fun, and tradition,” said Illene Blicblum, who helped organize the event. “Everyone is sure to have a great time.”

In the spirit of Purim, participants are encouraged to come in costume. For more information, call 571-8100 or visit www.jewishbrandon.com.