The fifth annual Purim Off Ponce costume party on March 12 is going with an Egyptian theme this year and asking the Pharaoh to “Let My People Come Out.” The event is a fundraiser for the Rainbow Center, a Jewish non-profit with the mission of helping gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of all denominations.
“The theme of ‘Let My People Come Out’ is a way to say let people be themselves regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of the Rainbow Center.
Each year the celebration honors “mensches” — people who have done good work for the community. This year the honorees are Charlie Chasen and Beverly Korfin.
Chasen helped organize the first Purim Off Ponce as well as advocating for 15 years for people with HIV/AIDS through Positive Impact and the former AIDS Survival Project and other organizations.
Korfin is an educator and trainer with the Rainbow Center and a longtime volunteer with such organizations as the Human Rights Campaign Federal Club and Georgia Equality.
Purim, an annual Jewish holiday, celebrates the saving of the Jews by Queen Esther and involves costumes and merrymaking.
The Rainbow Center, along with Jewish Family & Career Services and Congregation Bet Haverim, puts a gay spin on the holiday each year.
“There will be non-stop entertainment with aerial artists — they have even developed what they will be hanging from in the shape of a Jewish star,” says Stapel-Wax.
The Armorettes will be on hand to entertain and the Dames AFlame, Atlanta’s renowned burlesque troupe, will perform a special set just to commemorate the holiday, Stapel-Wax says.
Instead of a silent auction this year, there will be a special balloon pop. People can buy a balloon and inside will be a card naming their prize. While being a fun way to make money, it also leaves more room for dancing, she adds.
Top photo: Costumes, dancing and live entertainment are traditions for the annual Purim Off Ponce party (Courtesy Rainbow Center)