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The Feast of Purim

13 March, 201413 March, 2014 0 comments Geography Geography

Purim, a popular and lively Jewish festival is celebrated around the world beginning March 15 at sunset continuing through March 16 with the exception of Jerusalem where Purim will be celebrated from sunset on Sunday, 16 March, until sunset on Monday, 17 March.


Background to Purim


The Book of Esther describes the events leading up to Purim. Haman, Grand Vizier of the Persian Empire, tells Persian King Ahasuerus that, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among all the peoples... in your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people, neither do they keep the king's laws. Therefore, it does the king no profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed..."


As a result Haman issued a decree to massacre all the Jews in the Persian. But, as the Book of Esther subsequently describes, Haman's plot was foiled and, "The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor...a feast and a good day." (8:16-17)


Purim, a joyous celebration that recounts the miraculous salvation of the Jews has symbolized the victory of the Jewish people over anti-Semitic tyranny.



Dressing up in costume for Purim is a tradition. Photo courtesy Elisa Moed, Travelujah


The Fast of Esther


Thursday, 13 March, is a fast day known as the Fast of Esther, commemorating the story of Esther and how she herself fasted prior to asking for the Kings permission to see him (which was not usual and could be cause for death).


The book of Esther will be read aloud on Saturday evening after sunset. During the reading, each mention of Haman's name is cause for noise in order to drown out his name, a reflection of God's promise (Exodus 17:14, <http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0217.htm>) to, "blot out," the Amalekite nation, of which Haman was a descendant.


It is tradition for Jews to make special contributions to the poor, and have a festive holiday meal in the afternoon and to give presents to friends often which are homemade fruit-filled pastries known as Oznei Haman in Hebrew (Haman's ears) or Hamantaschen in Yiddish (Haman's pockets).


Shushan Purim


In Jerusalem, Purim is ordinarily celebrated one day later because walled cities at the time that Joshua entered the Land of Israel) celebrate Purim one day later than Jews living in unwalled cities. There are several other such cities in Israel where Shushan Purim is celebrated. In some cities whose status is in doubt, the Book of Esther will actually be read on both days.


In many places in Israel, Purim is marked by special parades; the most famous of these takes place in Tel Aviv. Many kindergartens, schools, synagogues, and towns will also host special Purim parties and carnivals.

TagsTags: purim book of esther 


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