In costumes or in pj’s, 15 families and their toddlers arrived Sunday morning at Crown Plaza in Old Town Alexandria to get in the Purim mood with craft projects, stories and songs.
The “Pre-Purim Pajama Party,” sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia’s Growing Jewish Families program, was a “public space Judaism” event to reach Fairfax County families closer to where they live than the center’s building, said Jennifer Kanarek, community engagement coordinator for Growing Jewish Families.
“There are an estimated 90,000 Jews in Northern Virginia. We have a building in the middle of Fairfax that many people don’t know exists,” she explained. “There are congregations out this way, but not everyone wants to do everything with their synagogue.”
It didn’t take the 2- to 5-year-olds long to get busy. Wearing a blue dress and golden crown, 2-year-old Eva Murray was using a chair as a drawing board. “She knew she’d be able to make a crown and eat hamantashen,” said her dad, Jim Murray, as Eva colored. “She did it last year and enjoyed it.”
The pajama party aimed to attract families in Alexandria and Arlington, said Kanarek. An event later in the day in the western part of Fairfax County was geared for Centerville, Chantilly and Reston.
That didn’t stop Ali and David Kulman from driving from Reston to Alexandria with their 19-month-old son, Eli. “I want to expose him to more Jewish activities and experiences,” said Ali. “This is super cute and there’s lots of activities.”
Joel and Lauren Hill came from Burke on the blustery morning with son Owen, 2, and daughter Julia, 8 months. “We don’t mind the drive,” said Lauren.
If there had been no Purim event, what would the family be doing this morning?
“Nothing,” said Lauren. “It would have been horrible, especially with this weather.” n