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Home > Holidays > Purim


Purim, a fairly minor, but very flamboyant holiday, recalls an escape of destruction-the bravery of Queen Esther and the intelligence of Mordechai. The Megilah, or the Book of Esther, recreates the story of Jewish deliverance from the most wicked King Haman who sought to eliminate all the Jews from Persia. King Ahasuerus (many believe him to be Xerxes) gave into Haman's request and allowed him to cast "pur" or lots to determine the exact day of the mass purging.

Mordechai's loyalty to the crown in uncovering a plot against the king and Esther's bold decision to speak on her own behalf publically, caused Ahasuerus to change his mind. On the day Mordechai was to be hanged, Haman and his sons were executed instead.

Every year, the Megilah is read with abandon and elaborately brought to life. With each mention of Haman'' name, children interrupt the reading with groggers, or noisemakers, to drown it out.

Jews around the world celebrate with carnivals and masquerades. Food is delivered to friends and family. The extreme glamour in the holiday helps create a mood that is showing that God can be worshiped with elaborate joy and festivities as well.


Purim is filled with delightfully filled treats, like hamentashen!

Read more about these delights and find some recipes: Click here!

How about some Hamentashen recipes? Click here!

What is God's place in the Book of Esther?

It is one of the more memorable sentences in the Megillah-the Book of Esther-that we read twice in synagogue on the holiday of Purim.

It constitutes a key turning point in the plot and has been quoted by generations of rabbis. But Esther 4:14, at first reading, appears to contain something less than a fully logical argument.

Let's set the scene. Mordechai, a Jewish functionary in the court of King Ahashverosh, has just learned that the king has signed off on Haman's plan to exterminate all the Jews in the empire.

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The Purim story as potboiler:
Jewish girl meets non-Jewish boy

By Kerry Olitzky

It sounds like an everyday story: A beautiful young Jewish woman marries a rich and powerful non-Jewish man.

She's raised in an acculturated upper-class household, where the "religion" of power and influence is of greater importance than the religion of her ancestors. Synagogue attendance and Jewish education are not priorities.

So when our heroine meets a non-Jew who can give her everything she wants, and more, they marry.Eventually she comes to identify with her people and, luckily for all of us, her husband also throws in his lot with the Jews at a crucial moment in history.

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A Purim in Krakow proclaims Jewish survival
By David R. Slavitt

I had been working on a translation of the "Book of Lamentations"-at the very least, a nervy undertaking.

John Donne had done it. And some of the other versions in English are very good. But few of them do what the Hebrew does, which is to run down the alphabet in those peculiar acrostics that appear so often in the psalms and in some of the passages in the Prophets, and in "piyyutim"-poems written between the fifth and 14th century, many of which have worked their way into the liturgy.

But the "Book of Lamentations" is not very long, and to make it into a publishable book, I had planned to write an introduction, one that would capture the same general incantational keening as the biblical text for which it would prepare the way.

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Purim in the Valley of Tears
By I.I. Cohen

We all sat listlessly on our bunks, waiting impatiently for the high point of our day in Death Camp Number Four of Dachau - the meager bread ration we received. It was my seventh month in a concentration camp.

"Do you know that tomorrow is Purim?" I asked my brothers in suffering, trying to distract them, and myself, from tormented thoughts and painful pangs of hunger.

"How do you know?"

"Who told you?"

"Have you been dreaming?"

"Where did you find a calendar?"

"It's freezing! Purim can't be for another month."

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