Purim is coming sooner than we think. That is, in the form of a new film called One Night with the King. I have to admit that I have always been a fan of Purim. Not of the so-called children’s beauty contests nor of the ubiquitous carnivals that many synagogue youth groups use to raise a few shekels for their own projects. No, I have been a fan of the story—in its unabridged adult version—and I have constantly been an advocate for adult celebrations of Purim in the American Jewish community, where “pediatric Judaism” seems to eclipse much else. It is what motivated me years ago to write a small booklet called “Will the Real Hero of Purim Please Stand Up?” and why I am currently working on a new translation and commentary of the Biblical book of Esther, as part of a series of sacred text translations for URJ Press that my colleague Leonard Kravitz and I have been involved in for years.
One Night with the King is produced by Matthew Crouch, head of Gener8Xion Entertainment and son of mega-televangelists Paul and Jan Crouch. Perhaps the story’s message interested him. Perhaps it is part of our culture’s recent interest in religious films, such as the controversial and profitable Passion of the Christ. I see it as another vehicle which helps bridge gaps between Christianity and Judaism, especially for the extended family members of interfaith families. And although it is certainly not the adult film that Purim (and adults) deserve, it does leave out some of the more uncomfortable aspects of the story, parts of the Purim enterprise of which I am personally not very proud. The film was shot in India. And like Memoirs of a Geisha which I also sometimes recommend to offer insight into the Purim story for us contemporary westerners (after all, Esther was a member of the King’s harem), this film will help to give us a little more color for a Jewish holiday and will provide easy access for many on the periphery of the Jewish community.