Preparing for the annual Purim Spiel


photo by Tess Mendelson

High school math teacher Tori Ball (center) organizes and plans the annual comedic Purim Spiel for the upper school each year.

Lincoln Aftergood, Reporter

The annual Purim Spiel, performed by math department, is the highlight of the Purim festivities every year and the brainchild of math teacher Victoria Ball.

“Usually what I try to do is I try to interview a bunch of students, and we just try to get a sense for what sorts of things people find funny in the moment, like what sorts of things are going on in pop culture,” Ball said.

Ball tries to use the same basic plan to form the Purim Spiel but with relevant jokes sprinkled in throughout. While Ball writes most of the script, she asks other teachers to make it funnier.

“Nothing immediately comes to mind, and then I start talking to people and it gets me going,” Ball said. “At the moment, I cannot think of any specific things that people are laughing about but when I start talking to people, they will remind me of things. Sometimes it is things I have never even heard of.”

Freshman Avishai Dayanim remembers the Purim Spiel from last year and hopes this year it is just as entertaining.

“I loved it a lot … and it is crazy how many jokes they are able to put in from pop culture, but it is always great,” Dayanim said. “Also, I like how they ask students for input for jokes and stuff. I think that’s really cool.”

This year, for the first time, the Purim Spiel will be different for middle schoolers and high schoolers. Ball is writing the spiel for the high schoolers, and other teachers will be writing one for the middle schoolers.

“My understanding was that there was a feeling that what was funny for middle schoolers was different than what was funny for high schoolers,” Ball said. “There was a goal of having a more specific experience for both groups. The middle school Spiel would have only middle school teachers and can focus on middle school jokes and vice versa.”

Middle school math teacher Robert Shorr enjoys acting in the Purim Spiel, and his favorite part is being able to behave differently from how he acts in the classroom. Shorr says that although teachers have not yet started writing the script, they are planning the references that they will include in the final performance on Purim, which is on Thursday, March 21 this year.

“We don’t have anything on paper yet, but it is something we start planning pretty far in advance,” Shorr said. “Maybe even more in advance than many of our math lessons. It’s definitely something we have a lot of excitement about in the [math] office.”