Purim is approaching. What costume will you wear for the holiday? The savvy Jew could consult Pinterest or any manner of costume websites (and believe me, some Halloween websites are aware of our holiday and have lots to offer). In my Brooklyn neighborhood there are stores offering for sale a variety of dress-up outfits and shticky stuff for Purim.

Certain costumes are traditional, such as dressing up as royalty. Then there costumes linked to jobs: police officer, soldier, cowboy or girl, and of course there are clown costumes. These typically seem to feature big, gawdy wigs, brightly colored clothing with oversized buttons, big shoes, and the like.

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I've never been partial to these types of stereotypical clown get-ups, but I have been thinking about them a lot because they will become less common in American society. And why? Because the venerable circus company Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is closing down.

This circus! The Greatest Show on Earth! How could it be sunk so low? How could it fade away?

The circus had become controversial in the United States, that is a major reason why. There had been growing protests regarding the use of live animals, particularly elephants and large cats, in the Ringling Brothers acts. Animal rights groups decried the treatment of the circus animals, and this cause caught on with a growing segment of the American public. Thus Ringling Brothers dropped its elephant act, and claims that its ticket sales fell greatly.

The decision to end the run of this world-renowned circus cannot have been easily made, and I won't explore this here. But over the years I have enjoyed attending the circus, and I am saddened by its end. Thus I decided to take my family to the circus when it performed in Brooklyn, at the Barclays Center, for its final season.

I bought tickets for a Thursday evening show, which took place during the Midwinter Recess (aka Presidents Week Vacation). My two teenage daughters were reluctant at first, expressing the opinion that the circus was really more for little kids. But by the end of the performance, they both agreed that they were glad to have attended.

"Out of this World" was the name of this circus show, and in an exciting twist, much of the show was performed on ice! There were clowns and dancers ice skating, even on stilts! It was wild. There was a space theme to the show, which was kind of hokey but endearing. There was the Torres Family which rides mini-motorcycles in a globe-shaped cage! There was a basketball troupe that played hoops while on unicycles of various sizes! There were daring aerial acts and tight-rope walkers, a horse riding group that did breath-taking tricks, a somewhat gentle lion-tiger tamer act and more.

And of course there were clowns. These clowns were dressed in silly, gawdy costumes that were a far cry from the typical Purim clown costume. And after the show, my family and I discussed what was to become of the people who work in the circus, including the clowns, now that the circus is leaving town for good. Clowns are supposed to be humorous and make us laugh, but it's hard to laugh when you're a clown on the Unemployment Line.

I will miss the Circus. I hope it can return in a modified incarnation.





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