Our wonderful Purim Shpiels will enhance your synagogue’s Purim celebrations. A $180 donation to Beth Israel is all it takes. For more information, please contact Jonathan Berkowitz at jonathan.berkowitz@ubc.ca.

Performance Note:

Our shpiels have two parts, a script and a set of songs. The songs have new lyrics that tell about the characters and places in the megillah. While the songs are meant to supplement the script, the two parts are independent. The scripts can stand alone and be performed without the songs. In our productions the songs have some audience participation. We project the lyrics on a large screen so that the entire congregation can sing along with the choir.


Script by Jonathan Berkowitz
Song 1 Lyrics by Jonathan Berkowitz; Songs 2-7 Lyrics by Michael Zoosman

February 2010
Our first shpiel is a tribute to the great Dr. Seuss, who played a big part in so many young lives (including the author’s). The script tells the Purim story in the style of Dr. Seuss (60 quatrains in iambic tetrameter, if you want the technical terms). Most of the script is narration, with a few lines of dialogue just as in Seuss books. The script is interspersed with songs having new lyrics to supplement the telling of the story. The songs are from well-known Broadway musicals and Gilbert & Sullivan. Oh, the places you’ll go when you perform this shpiel!

Song List:
Song 1: A Modern Major-General (from Pirates of Penzance)
Song 2: Memories (from Cats)
Song 3: Man of La Mancha (from Man of La Mancha)
Song 4: Who am I (from Les Miserables)
Song 5: Kiss the Girl (from The Little Mermaid)
Song 6: Day-O/ Banana Boat Song
Song 7: Do-Re-Mi (from The Sound of Music)


Script by Jonathan Berkowitz
Song Lyrics by Jonathan Berkowitz

March 2011
This shpiel pays tribute to the Bard. It tells the Purim story by weaving together 64 Shakespearean extracts with additional material in the style of Shakespeare. Some extracts are direct quotations, others are slightly “massaged.” For the academically-oriented there is a complete list of notes with references to the play, act, scene and line numbers for each extract! The story is told primarily through narration, so the cast requires a series of narrators. Join Congregation Mac-Beth Israel in this era of our brave new world of Purim shpiels. Popular baby boomer generation songs with new lyrics are interwoven with the text to supplement the story.

Song List:
Song 1: Sing For Real, Sing With Zeal (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles)
Song 2: Queen Vashti (Lemon Tree – Peter Paul & Mary)
Song 3: My Dear Mordechai (Bei Mir Bis Du Schoen – The Andrews Sisters)
Song 4: Shushan Jews (Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond)
Song 5: This Noose Was Made For Hangin’ (These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra)
Song 6: The Ballad of Achashverosh (The Ballad of Davy Crockett – Fess Parker)
Song 7: Thank You Queen Esther (Happy Together – The Turtles)
Song 8: Hallelujah (Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen)


Script by Jonathan Berkowitz and Deborah Stern Silver
Song Lyrics by Jonathan Berkowitz

February 2012
Characters and plot devices from many beloved fairy tales have been stitched together to retell the Purim story. Join Estherella and Charming Mordechai as they save the Jews from the evil troll Hamansel. This script has much more dialogue than the first two shpiels and gives lots of juicy lines for actors to ham(an) it up. There are also more puns that you can shake a shtick at. Once again, popular baby boomer generation songs with new lyrics are interwoven with the text to supplement the story.

Song List:
Song 1: A Shul in Vancouver (House of the Rising Sun – The Animals)
Song 2: Queen Vashti (Cecilia – Simon and Garfunkel)
Song 3: Meet Mordechai (Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond)
Song 4: Told in the Purim Megillah (Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan)
Song 5: Shushan (Downtown – Petula Clark)
Song 6: Noble Queen Esther (The Letter – The Box Tops)
Song 7: Hey, Jews (Hey Jude – The Beatles)
Song 8: Jews of the World (Joy to the World – Three Dog Night)


Script by Jonathan Berkowitz
Song Lyrics by Jonathan Berkowitz

February 2013
Get your tuxedos and vodka martini supplies ready for our fourth shpiel, a tribute to 50 years of James Bond. It has all the plot devices and famous lines from the Bond films. Two spies from the Biblical Intelligence Service (BI6), Israel Bond and Hadassah Goodheavens go undercover to foil the evil schemes of Scara-Haman-ga, also known as Haman. Witty dialogue and narration abound, but be warned: beginning with a prologue having puns on all 24 Bond film titles, the groan factor is very high! And like Bond films this shpiel has a PG rating. As in the previous shpiels, popular baby boomer generation songs with new lyrics are interwoven with the text to supplement the story.

Song List:
Instrumental medley of Bond theme songs
Song 1: We Are Jews (Let It Be – The Beatles)
Song 2: Sent to the Desert (A Horse with No Name  America)
Song 3: Achashverosh Wears the Persian Crown (For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield)
Song 4: Mordechai, Great Guy (Que Sera Sera  Doris Day)
Song 5: We Remember Her (Every Breath You Take – The Police)
Song 6: Shushan, Shushan (New York, New York  Frank Sinatra)
Song 7: Haman’s Demise (Another One Bites The Dust – Queen)
Song 8: Die Haman Die (Live and Let Die  Paul McCartney)
Song 9: Hurray For Us / We Jews Live On (Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In – The Fifth Dimension)


Script by Jonathan Berkowitz
Song Lyrics by Jonathan Berkowitz

March 2014
Purim: the humour frontier. These are the voyages of the BI Enterprise. Its five-shpiel mission: to create strange new wordplay, to seek out new scripts and new songs, to boldly split infinitives with parodies no one has done before. Get ready to “boldly go where no shpiel has gone before. Our fifth shpiel is a loving tribute to the great Star Trek franchise. Join Captain Kirkowitz, Dr. (not Mr.) Spock, Dr. McCoyvey, Sukkoty, Ensign Yomtov, Mr. Suluveitchik, Lt. Kainahora, and Yeoman Estherand as they investigate troubling events on the planet Shushan and try to restore a course of peaceful coexistence and tolerance. All the familiar lines and plot devices from the TV series are here. As in the previous shpiels, popular baby boomer generation songs with new lyrics are interwoven with the text to supplement the story. May we all live long and prosper!

Song List:
Song 1: The Book of Esther (The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel)
Song 2: Hit the Road Queen (Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles)
Song 3: Good Guy, Achashverosh (Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones)
Song 4: Mr. Mordechai (Mrs. Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel)
Song 5: Help! (Help! – The Beatles)
Song 6: If You COuld Read My Mind (If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot)
Song 7: You Don’t Know Haman (Piano Man – Billy Joel)
Song 8: City Of Old Shushan (City of New Orleans – Steve Goodman)
Song 9: Read the Megillah (LGet Together – The Youngbloods)



Script by Jonathan Berkowitz
Song Lyrics by Jonathan Berkowitz and Christie Menzo

March 2017
This shpiel is a musical. The story of Purim is told through more than 20 songs from The Beatles catalogue and from Paul McCartney’s solo career. It is amazing just how well these classic songs, with brand new lyrics of course, correspond to the story, with its heroes, villains, and twisting plot line. Perhaps it isn’t surprising since The Beatles were known as the Fab Four, and Judaism is based on our fab forefathers. The narration used to tie the songs together is based on Harry Potter, since he was a wizard and did magic, and this is a magical mystery shpiel. Included are groan-worthy puns on all seven titles in the Harry Potter series. Here is a list of the songs, with the new titles, the original titles, and whether it is chorus or soloist. An asterisk (*) indicates that the song was from Paul McCartney’s solo career. This singalong shpiel was a huge hit with our congregation.

CHORUS:     #1 Sing for Real, Sing with Zeal (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da)

CHORUS:     #2 Life in Shushan (Here Comes the Sun)]

KING:             #3 Hey Vashti (Dear Prudence)]

CHORUS:     #4 Kick Out the Bride (Ticket to Ride)]

CHORUS:     Excerpt: We’re So Sorry, Achashverosh (Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey*)

CHORUS:     Excerpt: Lady Hadassah (Lady Madonna)

ESTHER:       #5 Come Help Me Rule the Land (I Want to Hold Your Hand)]

CHORUS:     #6 The Jew By the Gate (The Fool on the Hill)]

HAMAN:        #7 Bow Down (Get Back)]

HAMAN:        #8 Got to Get Them Out of My Life (Got to Get You into My Life)]

CHORUS:     #9 Help! (Help!)]

KING:             #10 Tell Me Do (Love Me Do)]

HAMAN:        #11 She Loves Me (She Loves You)]

KING:             #12 A Hard Day’s Night (A Hard Day’s Night)]

HAMAN:        #13 Haman’s Lament (In My Life)]

HAMAN:        #14 We Can Work It Out (We Can Work It Out)]

CHORUS:     #15 Haman’s Time Has Come (Band on the Run*)

KING:             #16 From Me to You (From Me to You)]

CHORUS:     Excerpt: Haman’s Demise (Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five *)

CHORUS:     #17 We Are Jews (Let It Be)]

CHORUS:     #18 World of Challenges/Celebration (Yellow Submarine/Octopus’s Garden mashup)]

CHORUS:     #19 Hey Jews (Hey Jude)] [CHORUS:    Encore: Hallelujah (Tribute to Leonard Cohen)