Fulham Street in Kemp Mill is a quiet residential side street like any other in this suburban neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. Traffic is light, and greenery is in abundance. The street’s lovely split-level and colonial-style homes have modest backyards, many of them littered with toys and other evidence of the families with young children who call this block home.
But each year, on Purim day, this quiet side street comes to life in an incredible way. Neighbors call it “Purim on Fulham,” a block-wide Purim carnival open to friends and neighbors from around the Silver Spring community. Fulham residents from an array of different shuls, schools and stages in life come together to offer fresh popcorn and cotton candy, a moon bounce, petting zoo and carnival games galore to the greater Jewish community.
“It is beautiful to see how Purim on Fulham brings the whole block together,” says Rachel Cattan, whose family runs the face-painting booth and the moon bounce. Her neighbors agree that their block festival is a unique combination of unity and family fun. “It’s a beautiful show of achdus [unity],” says Amy Sukol, hostess of the popcorn popping and music booths. “Our kids absolutely love it,” adds Debbie Cohn, whose family hosts the cookie decorating station.
How It All Began
The annual Purim block carnival is the brainchild of Rachel Ravin, proprietress of the cotton candy machine and basketball toss game. When she and her family moved onto Fulham Street several years ago, they were thrilled to finally have so many frum [religious] neighbors. “We used to live in another community,” she explains, “where we were really far away from other frum families. We moved to Kemp Mill and, for me, one of the most exciting things was being on a block filled with Orthodox Jews.”