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Mind reader adds to the mystery, celebration of Purim

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Dittelman, a mind-reader who was a semifinalist on America's Got Talent, is set to perform at the Schottenstein Chabad House as part of Purim celebrations. Credit: screenshot of NBC.

Dittelman, a mind-reader who was a semifinalist on America’s Got Talent, is set to perform at the Schottenstein Chabad House as part of Purim celebrations. Credit: screenshot of NBC.

The Jewish holiday Purim traditionally includes charity, dressing up, gift-giving and readings of the Megillah.

At Ohio State, the festivities this year also include a celebrity mind reader.

Eric Dittelman, a semifinalist on “America’s Got Talent,” has performed on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and is bringing his act to Mershon Auditorium Wednesday for the Purim celebration by the Schottenstein Chabad House.

Purim is a festival that celebrates the salvation of the Jews in Persia through a miracle from God. In the story, recorded in the Book of Esther, God does not appear overtly. Celebrations of this holiday tend to revolve around this theme of hidden identities.

Rabbi Zalman Deitsch, of the Chabad House, said that the appearance by Dittelman, who is not Jewish, is an attempt to bring greater awareness to a lesser-known holiday and added that his act relates to this theme of hidden identities because he reveals what is hidden in the mind.

Deitsch said Purim is a holiday that tends to get overlooked.

“We wanted to welcome everyone to have a little taste of the holiday,” he said.

He stressed that the event is open to the entire community and that no prior knowledge of Jewish holidays is required.

“We should serve God with joy,” Deitsch said. “Purim actually focuses on the joy. It’s one of those holidays that, really, if you’re not having fun doing it, you’re doing it wrong.”

The celebration will also include a masquerade and the owner of the best costume will win an iPad. Guests are welcome to wear any costume, but homemade costumes stand the best chance of winning, Deitsch said.

Along with Dittelman’s performance, the celebration will include the holiday’s more traditional observations.

Chabad House’s celebration will include a reading from the Book of Esther, and packages of food and pennies will be given to guests. Guests will be asked to give the food to their friends and the money to the poor, Deitsch said.

He added that he hopes that this focus on charity will inspire those who attend.

“In the world today, if we cared more, there would be a lot more joy,” he said. “I think, these days, apathy is the biggest struggle for religion. Apathy is dangerous.”

Dittelman said he is looking forward to being a part of the celebration. He said his mind-reading career began with an interest in magic. When he learned about magic, he then taught himself some psychology and went to Las Vegas where he studied with great mind readers.

He said he likes mind reading because he likes showing audiences “something that they’ve never seen before.”

Dittelman incorporates his background in magic and psychology, as well as comedy and improv, into his shows. But he said he knows that many people are skeptical of his ability to read minds.

“I’m skeptical, too. I just tell people it’s not about really trying to figure it out, it’s about suspending disbelief and having a good time,” he said.

“I am looking forward to the show. I think it should be a lot of fun, it’s always a good time in Ohio.”

The event is free for OSU students with a BuckID and $10 for non-students. No registration is necessary.

“We’re hoping that we have a full house and we’re opening it up to the entire community,” Deitsch said. “If you’re thinking about going to this, the best thing to do is to bring an open heart and an open mind.”

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