Friday, March 06, 2009

First mention: Purim

In this new and occasional feature, DovBear looks at the New York Time's first mention of various subjects of interest.

Today: PURIM
First Appeared: March 7, 1863

Read the full article here.

Things I learned today:
(1) There was a Purim Ball in NYC in the 1860s!
(2) The Purim Ball was occasionally attended by the mayor (this was in the 1860s!), and the Times treated the Purim Ball as a major social event until at least the early 1900s. (Read an especially lavish descritption from March 23, 1864)
(3) In the 1880s the venue was the Metropolitan Opera House. In the early 1900s it moved to Madison Square Garden, and, in 1907, the Governor made an appearence.

The articles about the annual Purim Ball stop appearing in the 1920s. Why? Three possible explanations, aside from the obvious (i.e. that the Ball was discontinued):

(a) The ball lost its significance, perhaps because the German Jewish socialites who extablished and attended the ball had become more assimilated; (b) The Time's changed its policy on covering social events; or (c) the arrival of the Eastern European hordes somehow changed the general impression of Jews.

I expect the true answer is some combination of the above.

No comments: