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The Feast of Purim Begins

19 February, 201319 February, 2013 0 comments Jewish Holidays Jewish Holidays

In Esther 3:8, the anti-Semitic 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..."


Haman, one of history's most anti-Semitic villians, decreed that all Jewis in the Persian Empire be massacred, however, his plot was foiled by Esther, the Jewish Queen. Thus we have the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people.

This year Purim is celebrated year between sunset Saturday, 23 February, and sunset Sunday, 24 February, in most of Israel. In jerusalem as well as a few other cities, though Purim will be celebrated from sunset on Sunday, 24 February until sunset on Monday, 25 February.

The Fast of Esther


The Fast of Esther which begins on Thursday, 21 February, commemorates the fact that Esther along with the entire Persian Jewish community fasted (4:16) in advance of Queen Esther's appeal for King Ahasuerus not to implement Haman's genocidal plot. At that time, a queen was only to go to see the King after she'd been invited otherwise she could be put to death. The fast is usually the day before Purim, however, since Purim is on a Saturday night, the fast is moved to the preceding Thursday.


Purim and the reading of the Book of Esther


Jews will gather in synagagues around the world to read the book of Esther and it is customary for people to arrive in costume. (in fact it is quite customary to see people dressed up at their places of work on Purim). Adults and children alike go to great lengths to preprare their costumes and most cities in Israel will hold their parades on Friday morning. During the reading of the Book of Esther, whenever Haman's name is mentioned, congregants will shake noisemakers or stamp their feet to drown out Haman's name - a reflection of God's promise (Exodus 17:14) to, "blot out," the Amalekite nation, of which Haman was a descendant; special Purim noisemakers may be used for this purpose.


Customs associated with Purim -Mishloach Manot (exchanging gifts)


Aside from dressing up in costume, a number of customs are associated with Purim including sending gifts of food to each other- known as mishloach manot, making special contributions to the poor, enjoying a a festive holiday meal in the afternoon of Purim and of course, preparing the three-cornered, fruit-filled pastries known as Oznei Haman in Hebrew (Haman's ears) or Hamantaschen in Yiddish (Haman's pockets). These holiday cookies are traditionally filled with poppy, jam or chocolate though in the last few years modern twists have been made to the Hamentashen with specialty bakeries now offering more savory flavors with fillings such as goat cheese, walnuts, feta and olives.


Below is a photo of how our family dressed up for Purim in 2012!





Shushan Purim


In Jerusalem, Purim is ordinarily celebrated one day later than it is in the rest of the world; originating from the fact that an extra day was prescribed for the Jews of Shushan. in order to defend themselves against their enemies. This second day is known as Shushan Purim and is referred to in the book of Esther as well. (9:16-19), Jews living in walled cities (later defined by rabbinical authorities to mean walled cities at the time that Joshua entered the Land of Israel) celebrate Purim one day later than Jews living in unwalled cities and in Israel where Shushan Purim is celebrated, there are a few walled cities.


Making Hamentashen

1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup orange juice
11/4 cup white flour
11/4 cup wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
Various preserves, fruit butters and/or pie fillings.

ix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the egg, orange juice,vanilla and oil in another bowl. Combines the mixtures, add lemon zest. Refrigerate dough for a few minutes. Take the dough and roll it out and using the bottom of a wide rimmed glass, cut the dough into circles. Put a tsp of your filling in the center. Take the right side of the dough and fold over the preserve, then the left, then the bottom and pinch - leaving the filling exposed in the middle.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 375 or until light brown. Can sprinkle with powder sugar.


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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah, the largest Christian travel network focused on the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



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