Purim: Jewish communities celebrate

Purple and green feathered mask over sheet of Jewish text

A Purim mask with Jewish text. Photo by David Hurwitz, courtesy of Flickr

SUNSET SATURDAY, MARCH 15: Synagogues resonate with the sounds of hissing, booing and stomping, today, in celebration of the Jewish festival of Purim. One of the most joyous festivals of the year, the story behind Purim evolved from an ancient plot to destroy Jews and ended with Jewish victory and a renowned queen.

Today, Jews eagerly listen to readings from the Book of Esther, “blotting out” the name of the Jewish enemy—Haman—with noisemakers and clomping.

TASTES OF PURIM

Our Feed The Spirit department, this week, features much more about Purim by Bobbie Lewis and includes a delicious recipe for Purim’s signature cookie: Hamentaschen. (Sometimes spelled with an “e” or an “a”—”Hamen …” or “Hamantaschen.”)

Here’s a “taste” of Bobbie’s column: “This is one of the most festive days of the Jewish calendar, even though it’s not a “holy” day mentioned in the Torah, like Rosh Hashanah or Passover. If you want to know what Purim is all about, read the Book of Esther in the Bible (a post-Torah piece of writing). It’s a wonderful story, with a hero (Mordechai), a heroine (Esther), a villain (Haman) and a fool (King Ahasuerus). It has drama, tension, irony, even humor. And, in the end, the Jews of Persia are saved from the dastardly plot to annihilate them.”

PURIM TODAY

Triangular pastries on a plate, each filled with a dark, jelly-like center

Hamantaschen for Purim. Photo by Isabelle Boucher, courtesy of Flickr

Purim’s signature cookies are known as Hamantaschen, or “Haman’s pockets.” (Enjoy our Feed The Spirit column today for a great cookie recipe.) Seeds and nuts serve as a reminder that Queen Esther ate these while serving as queen, since she had no access to kosher food. Additionally, adult Jews are instructed to drink wine until they can no longer “distinguish between arur Haman (‘Cursed is Haman’) and baruch Mordechai (‘Blessed is Mordecai’).

IN THE NEWS:
CONTROVERSIAL BOOK,
FIRECRACKER WARNINGS

A children’s book, The Purim Superhero, is causing some controversy because it is LGBT friendly, the Boston Globe recently reported. Despite the stir, thousands of book copies are being requested by local Jewish families.

Rabbis are warning Jews to use caution when lighting firecrackers for Purim, for both safety and the Torah comand to avoid purposely endangering one’s life. Read more here.

Note: In cities that were walled at the time of the biblical Joshua, Purim is celebrated one day later—this year, at sunset on March 16. This holiday, Shushan Purim, is now only observed in Jerusalem.

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