Purim night at Chabad Lubavitch and the types of parties you can find in the city
This article is a two-parter. The former will discuss a special place in Thornhill on Purim night while the latter will explore the types of options available to you on Purim night.
Depending on who you ask, there’s always a ton of parties and happenings going on Purim night. Since Purim seems to fall almost all the time on Sunday, Saturday night is prime time for partying. And in Thornhill, there’s one place that always seems to bring it. It wouldn’t be Purim without the ruckus that is Chabad Lubavitch.
The thing about Chabad Lubavitch is that there’s no holding back there. They’ll still be partying long after you’ve finished yours – which makes it the type of place you’ll just be like, “my party’s over and it’s still early, so I might as well check out/crash Chabad.”
If you’re driving, there’s a good chance you’ll be stopped by RIDE (where police check every driver going through the area/down the road to see if they’ve been drinking). But chances are you’re probably walking there because it’s right in the middle of the neighbourhood. You’ll also most likely pass a ton of high schoolers/university students in the parking lot on the way in. You can attest this to that Chabad isn’t bothered by it (they probably love it because they can converge on the non-religious types), they want free booze, or cause it’s a hangout. This could translate into the deterrence of an older crowd and more mature crowd who aren’t really looking for that kind scene. Plus it’s also kind of sad if you want to spend Purim night with a bunch of kids not your age. Please… no one wants to be that person.
And of course if you’re not Lubavitch, than it’s not really your cup of tea. It’s also not female friendly, as they’re packed upstairs on the balcony restricted only to observe the fun.
Inside – it’s a madhouse. Loads of people, booze flying all around, Chabadnicks coming up to you and giving you brachas and all that. It’s a spectacle. My favourite part is that I’m guaranteed to see a nine-year holding and chugging a bottle vodka.
I can’t recall if they take the party outside and into the streets but I do know that happens at Chabad Flamingo by my house. Now that is a party. Chances are I’ll drop by on my way home.
Costumes aren’t mandatory (besides the goofy crown, a fez or a shtreimel and peyos).
Now for part 2:
Purim parties in the city can really be divided into the various categories:
1) Family friendly affairs at shuls: This is your standard Megillah reading and party. Because Purim really is all about your kids. They like dressing up (as do the parents like being the dressers), make a lot of noise and enjoy the carnival to follow. And when it’s time to dance, who doesn’t want to be on top of Abba’s shoulders? Pretty much every shul has this option available. And if you really want, you can have a bottle on the side and a few with the chevreh.
2) High school gatherings with their schools or other similar-age groups (i.e. NCSY or B’nei Akiva): If I’m a parent, this is where I want my kids to be come Purim night. And if you’re in the crew, than you want to be there too. I did NCSY in high school and I was an advisor as well, so I’d often be there. Most of the time it was at King Solomon’s so you probably got a free meal in it as well. Noise is allowed and shmoozing is encouraged. I guess A chances are there’s a program/contest going down as well. There’s dancing and the like. The same thing is done in more religious circles as well. And then there’s collecting… in limos. Which is awesome. I’m not sure if this is done Purim night since I know it’s for sure a daytime thing.
Most of these parties take place at shuls (in a room/area disconnected from the main shul party) or at separate/booked location.
3) Young Professional/University-Age scenes: Even though I’m of age, I’m actually not a fan of these kind of parties. I think it comes from a precedent of disappointment. I went to a Hillel event one year and it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was pretty much a dance party, which in my opinion, is not a thing to do Purim night. Then again, I’d just come from back yeshiva, I’m not really a dance party kind of guy and someone did steal my leather jacket (I still resent Hillel for that).
You’re most likely paying a nice sum of cash to attend. There’s booze a plenty and most people (unless you’re too cool for school) are in costume. There probably isn’t a Megillah reading so you’re gonna have to get to one before you hit up the fun.
Hip shuls or groups are hosting these kind of places. This year I know the Annex Shul has something at nightclub downtown. Other likely places I can think of include Minsk Shul (I haven’t been is pretty sweet), Hillel, The House, Forest Hill Jewish Center, and JUMP. It would make sense however to have one place where everything is happening which I think is the case this year with the Annex.
The parties are nonetheless pretty happening and full of energy.
4) House parties: I have a friend that hosts one every year and I always enjoy it. It’s close to home, themed, relaxed, yet happening. If you don’t want a scene but want a good time with close friends (with free food) then you want a house party. Perhaps this might be a pre-party before hitting up one of the other listed options or a place to wind down post-scene.
5) Chassidic madhouses: I’m singling out Bobov in this case because it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a Chabad experience. If your not Chassidic, than it’s really awkward just going in.
We hope you enjoy your Purim experience this year, wherever it may be.
And try to avoid Bathurst and Wilson unless you want to get pulled over by RIDE.