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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.

 

purim

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 5, 2012March 5, 2012  0 comments  Events

Background to Purim

 

Purim commemorates the events described in the Book of Esther<http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Esthertoc.html>.  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..."  Thus, Haman coined one of the most infamous anti-Semitic canards: That the Jews are a clannish and alien people who do not obey the laws of the land.  At Haman's contrivance, a decree is then issued for all Jews in the Persian Empire to be massacred.  But, as the Book of Esther subsequently relates, 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)

 

Throughout the centuries, Purim - which celebrates the miraculous salvation of the Jews and the thwarting of Haman's genocidal plot - has traditionally symbolized the victory of the Jewish people over anti-Semitic tyranny.  As such, Purim is a happy, carnival-like holiday.

 

 

The Fast of Esther

 

Wednesday, 7 March, is a fast day known as the Fast of Esther, commemorating (inter alia) the fact that Queen Esther - the heroine of the Book of Esther - and 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.  The fast will extend from before sunrise in the morning until sunset.  Special prayers and scriptural readings are inserted into the synagogue service.

 

 Purim Celebration Begins In Jerusalem

 

 

 

After sunset Wednesday evening, 7 March, festive prayers will take place in synagogues, where the Book of Esther will also be read aloud.  It is customary for people, especially children, to come to synagogue dressed in costume.  During the reading of the Book of Esther, whenever Haman's name is mentioned, congregants traditionally make as much noise as possible in order to drown out his 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.  The Book of Esther will be read again during morning prayers on Thursday, 8 March.  A special Purim prayer is inserted into the daily prayers and the blessing after meals.

 

 

On Purim, Jews are enjoined by the Book of Esther (9:22) to send gifts of food to each other, make special contributions to the poor, and have a festive holiday meal in the afternoon.  To this end, the day is also marked by collections for various charities, and by people visiting neighbors and friends to deliver baskets of food, prominent among which are small, three-cornered, fruit-filled pastries known as Oznei Haman in Hebrew (Haman's ears) or Hamantaschen in Yiddish (Haman's pockets).

 

 

At the festive meal, some maintain the custom of becoming so inebriated that they cannot distinguish between, "Blessed is Mordechai," (Esther's uncle and the hero of the Book of Esther) and, "Cursed is Haman."

 

 

Shushan Purim

 

 

In Jerusalem, Purim is ordinarily celebrated one day later than it is in the rest of the world; accordingly, all Purim-related observances are postponed by one day.  This practice originates from the fact that an extra day was prescribed for the Jews of Shushan (the modern Susa, one of the Persian Empire's four capitals) to defend themselves against their enemies.  This second day is known as Shushan Purim.  As mentioned in the Book of Esther itself (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.  There are several 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.

 

 

Purim in Film

 

 

Following are clips from six films (courtesy of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive<http://www.spielbergfilmarchive.org.il/>) that depict the various ways in which Purim has been celebrated:

 

 

Adloyada 1960 - Color scenes of the colorful procession in Tel Aviv 52 years ago.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd32borYr6I

 

Faces Of Freedom (1960) - New immigrants are absorbed into Israeli society at the beginning of the 1960s. The film begins with a Purim carnival.

 http://youtu.be/TjRFso0xE94

 

Springtime in Palestine (1928)  -  Comprehensive survey of the developing country in the 1920s. Includes a Bukharian Purim feast and scenes of the 1928 carnival in which Baruch Agadati appears with Tzipporah Tzabari, the first Purim queen of Tel Aviv (from 11:33 min).

http://youtu.be/dBDuUKm8SyU

 

Eretz Yisrael: Building Up The Jewish National Home (1934) - The film begins with scenes of the Adloyada in Tel Aviv. It continues with agricultural scenes in Kibbutz Ein Harod, Deganya A and the women's agricultural school in Nahalal.     http://youtu.be/e45TPC-22W8

 

Edge of the West (1961) - A color film surveying Jewish life in Morocco in the early 1960s, including Purim celebrations (from 28:35 min.) http://youtu.be/LGzEVarZm8k

 

Hassidic Music (1994) -  From the series "A People And Its Music"  which depicts various Jewish music traditions. Includes scenes of Lubavitch Hassidim celebrating Purim (from 23:22 min.) http://youtu.be/LGzEVarZm8k

 

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Tags: purim feast 

February 22, 2010February 22, 2010  2 comments  Jewish Holidays

  

Visitors to the Holy Land around this time of year can be forgiven for wondering if the Jews are celebrating Halloween in February. After all, there are costumes galore and on one special day in late February or early March, the kids will be going from house to house dressed in costumes and carrying bags of goodies. However, if you look closely, you'll see something strange. Instead of demanding candy as in "Trick or Treat," the kids are actually offering packages of food to their neighbors. They may well receive something in return, however there is no requirement to get - only to give and to have a good time. The holiday they are celebrating is based on the ancient book of Esther from the Old Testament and it is called Purim.

 

There are lots of traditions surrounding the holiday, including a tradition to get drunk and to be merry (I know - it sounds like a cross between St. Patrick's Day and Halloween), but one of my favorite traditions isn't mentioned in the bible or even the Talmud. It's the giving of a small triangle shaped cookie known as a "Hamentashen" in Yiddish and "Ozen Haman" in Hebrew.

 

So what exactly is a hamentashen anyway?

 

Well, a hamentashen is a kind of fruit filled cookie sort of like a newton except for the shape. The Yiddish word derives from the words Haman, the villain of the story of Esther and the word Tashen, which in Yiddish means hat. Supposedly, Haman's hat looked something like a triangle and so the Jews commemorate the story by eating a cookie shaped like his hat.

 

What is stranger is that the Hebrew word means Haman's ears. Try as I might, I haven't found an acceptable explanation for that one. Some people claim that Haman's ears were deformed (Was he Mr. Spock? Is Vulcan logic the true enemy of the Jews?) and others try to make some kind of connection since the ears were covered by the triangular hat. Either way, the cookies come in a wide variety of flavors and are absolutely delicious.

 

Where to buy the best hamentashen?

 

I can't really give you a suggestion  as to wear to get the best hamentashen since I don't know where you'll be buying, but I can tell you that to get into the true spirit of the holiday you should look for hamentashen that are freshly baked by a real bakery. The stuff they sell in supermarkets typically has a lot of preservatives and I've never known them to be all that good. Should you be in Israel - then head for the shuk.

 

There are several kinds of hamentashen available as well. The standard kind are small cookies, about the size of a newton and should have a somewhat soft shell. It shouldn't be falling apart, but if it's rock hard, they're probably old. There are also giant hamentashen which can be a lot of fun and in a select few places one can even find a kind of dough based hamentashen where the filling is injected into a cake shaped like a triangle but which resemble a jelly donut more than a traditional hamentashen.

 

Flavors of hamentashen

 

When it comes to flavors of hamentashen, everyone in Israel has their own things to say about it. There are dozens of choices ranging from the more traditional, like dates and poppy seed to the more unusual, such as halva and strawberry flavored. My personal favorite is the chocolate flavored kind since I happen to be a total chocoholic, however in a good bakery you should find lots of flavors to try out.

 

Oddly enough though, the flavor I grew up with in the United States isn't sold in this country. It's prune flavored hamentashen. If you were to walk into any Jewish bakery in the United States, they'd happily sell you prune or poppy seed flavored hamentashen, but not much else. Here, everything under the sun is offered except for prune. My guess is that this is Israel's way of saying if you really want to experience Purim in all it's glory, make a date to be here for the holiday. Otherwise you can have second best, like a dried prune back in the States.


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.

 

hamentashen

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.

 


February 19, 2013February 19, 2013  0 comments  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!

 

Purim

 

 

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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