It is many years since tricorn hats were worn regularly at Bevis Marks Synagogue, but I reintroduced this Purim as Visiting Rabbi.
When their use was discontinued in favour of top hats, some 200 years ago, certain members were so upset with this “pandering to modernity” that they formed a breakaway tricorn minyan. However, it has been made clear that this new development does not represent a regression, and that from now on both tricorns and top hats are equally acceptable.
Members of the BM Synagogue Committee have embraced the idea, and a bowler hat minyan has been proposed for next year.
Parnass and honorary treasurer David Nunes Vaz getting into the tricorn spirit.
The Bevis Marks Megillah
This a large and beautifully written specimen, with an ivory handle and a green taffeta backing.
The Illuminated Cohen Megillah
This year’s reading was from a Megillah that I myself wrote and illuminated some years back, when I studied the pertinent laws and customs in detail.
The abstract illumination (with more than a nod to both Judaica artist Baruch Nachshon and English heraldic tradition) represents the rise of two personalities (Mordechai and Esther), the fall of two others (Haman and his Mrs) and the “real King” whose hidden but overarching presence is hinted at by the word “Melech (king)” at the head of most columns of this version of the scroll.
Some 80 – 100 members and visitors attended our Purim evening service and Megillah reading. We were regaled with freshly-baked gourmet Hamantaschen in the succah after the service, filled with caramel, and chocolate, as well as the traditional poppy-seed. In a shocking development the chocolate ones were discovered to have been spiked with an alcoholic beverage.
It was suggested that these pastries may in fact have nothing to do with ears (after all they don’t really look like ears do they?), but that properly made they in fact represent Haman’s hat – which brings us back to the tricorn! As such, far from being an Ashkenazi tradition that we have borrowed, the eating of “Haman’s Tricorn” may well be an ancient and long-forgotten S&P custom at least as old as Bendigamos.
As an interesting aside, while preparing the sefarim for Parashat Zachor (the Shabbat before Purim), I made an interesting discovery. To read about it click here.