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March 13, 2014March 13, 2014  0 comments  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.

Tags: purim book of esther 

March 14, 2011March 14, 2011  0 comments  Jewish Holidays

If you are in Israel during the holiday of Purim, you might think Israelis had confused the spring holiday with Halloween.

Purim is supposed to be a joyful holiday and, as such, costumes and parties are the order of the day. From babies in daycare to school children to adults attending parties, nearly everyone in the country gets in on the action. Though Purim lasts only one day, or two if you are outside a walled city, costumes can be worn for a week before and after the actual date, which this year is March 19 to 20.


The Book of Esther and her miraculous positioning as Queen of Persia is the source of the holiday. The jubilation and merriment of the holiday is based on Esther 8:17: "In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them." Interestingly, God does not appear at all in the Scroll of Esther.


The word Purim originate from the Persian word pur, which means "lot." The holiday was named for the lots cast by Haman, who sought the annihilation of the Jewish people exiled in Persia and refers to Haman's plt to kill all the Jews. Esther, the beautiful Jewish wife of King Ahashverus risked her life to save the Jewish people from Haman's plot by revealing her true identity and the scheme of drawing "lots" to kill Jews to her husband The earliest known celebration dates back to the 2nd Century CE.


The most famous food associated with Purim is a cookie called Oznay Haman or the Yiddish word, hamantaschen, meaning "Haman's ears." The cookies are filled with chocolate, dates, poppy seeds or jellies. A special hallah bread is made during Purim, braided extensively to symbolize the rope upon which Haman was hung.



The traditional Purim treat - Hamentashen


Other interesting Purim tidbits include the fact that it is mandated that people make a lot of noise during this holiday. Special groggers or noisemakers are readily available for sale in all the toy stores and during the reading of the Scroll of Esther, these noisemakers which make a gratting sound are to be shaken at every mention of Haman's name, in order to drown it out.


Many activities are available in which to participate. And if you can't make it to any of the special events, you can always visit a synagogue as the Megillah is read aloud. Attendees boo and hiss at every mention of Haman's name.


Things to Do in Israel for Purim

Appolonia Park, near Herziliya

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority encourages citizens and visitors to Israel to mingle with nature and is sponsoring a Purim festival will be held at the ancient Crusader fortress on the Mediterranean. Things to do include: Walking tours and workshops, including making origami masks and baskets for Purim gift packages; and bird watching sessions on the cormorants, which are getting ready to migrate to colder climates on March 22 and 23. For details about these and other Purim events in the national parks, call *3693 in Israel.


Israel Museum in Jerusalem

Esther the Disaster - a musical circus with the Israel Stage Orchestra

A play based on the biblical Esther featuring a bossy circus manager that controls a traveling musical circus, her husband 'Evil Oman' and their sons 'Primary Mordechai' and 'Achash Barosh.'


March 21. For reservations call: 02.677.1302


Workshops: Illustrating the Book of Esther- in pen and colored ink on parchment; and Crown and Scepter - creating glittering royal accessories


March 20 and 21, 10 a.m. Admission: 20 shekels


Old City Jerusalem

Beit Shmuel invites you to take a tour back in time to the story of the Book of Esther along the mysterious alleys of the old city's Jewish Quarter. On the tour, participants will meet some cheerful, amusing Purim characters played by actors from the Poyke Theater.


March 20 and 21. For details call: 02.620.3461


Time Elevator in Jerusalem

During Purim, anyone who dresses up as a doctor will receive free entrance to the ''Journey into the Human Body'' exhibit, anyone dressed up as an astronaut will receive free entrance to the ''Voyage to the Universe'' and anyone dressed up as an Indian will receive free entrance to a screening of ''India in Motion."


March 20 and 21, between 10 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.


Tower of David, Jerusalem

Mayumana - rhythm workshop for children


In Purim, the Tower of David Museum invites parents and children for a celebration of rhythm, movement, creativity and humor with the Mayumana ensemble. Surrounded by the special atmosphere of the old citadel walls, participants will use sticks, buckets, tins and their own bodies as surprising musical instruments. The workshop will begin with getting to know the instructors and their amazing talents with a taste from the show, followed by a group warm-up to prepare the body for some energetic work and then an assortment of fun filled work stations. The workshop will be held on March 21 at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.


Admission (including entrance to the museum): 50 shekels


Register prior: 02.626.5333. More information at: www.towerofdavid.org.il


Yambakerah (Sea on Ice) - an Ice Skating rink in Jerusalem

While this has nothing to do with Purim per se, the temporary ice skating rink will stay open until April 14. The 500-squaremeter rink will be open for children and adults weekdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays until 2 p.m. and Saturday after Shabbat until midnight at Kikar Safra. Admission: 30 to 40 shekels.


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