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Jews Who Rock: Purim for Pyros

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Over the course of several Lollapaloozas and a few Jane's Addiction tours, Perry Farrell has gotten used to playing for drunken revelers with a spiritual side. But his Purim performance at Makor, an Upper West Side nightclub-cum-community center set up to pull secular Jews back into the fold, may have been the first time hamantaschen were served.

"It's Purimpalooza!" said Farrell (né Bernstein), who's been studying Torah. Passing out plastic cups of Absolut in his dressing room, he declared, "The commandment is to get ahd d'lo yadah -- to go to where you're beyond the space-time continuum."

The tradition, to simplify, is to dress up in costume and drink vigorously. Not everyone was clear on the concept -- "So I guess Purim's like the Jewish Halloween?" -- and it was hard to tell whether the woman wearing gauzy butterfly wings was celebrating a Jewish holiday or the rave look. But within a few songs, everyone knew enough to jeer when Farrell shouted "Haman," the villain of the Purim story.

"This is synergy between the dominant culture, pop music, and something Jewish," said Rabbi David Gedzelman of Makor. "There are people here for Purim, people here for Perry, and people here for both." In any case, said Makor music booker Brice Rosenbloom, "it was certainly more raucous than last year's Klezmatics show."

When Farrell ended his set of trance music with an Israeli folk song ("Chag Sameach, Perry!" shouted a man in an Afro wig), one of the few sober people in the room was a middle-aged woman standing quietly at the foot of the stage. Was she having fun? "It's my son," said Marilyn Bernstein, Farrell's stepmom. "How could I not have a good time?"


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