Purim: Enchantment, Excitement, Exhilaration
Colorful costumes! Scrumptious hamantaschen! Vibrant parties! It's Purim! A day of festivities, of food, but most importantly, a day of happiness. In fact, on this holiday, which occurs on the fourteenth of Adar (this year, March 20th), we are obligated to be happy. It may seem strange. How can happiness be obligatory? But on Purim, happiness comes easy. This is one festival with something for everyone – adults and children, literature lovers and party-goers, bakers and wine connoisseurs. From start to finish, the holiday is filled with traditions sure to make you smile!
Drama, Comedy, Action: The Whole Megillah
Like a good story? If so, then you're bound to love Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther), a whirlwind narrative full of court intrigue, comedy, and exciting plot twists whose dramatic ending is the source of all our Purim celebrations. In the Megillah, a Jewish woman named Esther becomes queen of the kingdom of Persia. Once in the palace, she keeps her religion a secret, at the advice of her uncle, Mordechai. Meanwhile, the evil counselor Haman, angered by Mordechai's refusal to bow to him, secures the king's permission on a plot to kill all the Jews of the empire. Here, an invisible divine providence rolls into action – with extraordinary courage and ingenuity, Esther saves the day, bringing about an astonishing turn of events. Of course, this synopsis doesn't do the Megillah justice. The book is certainly a "must read!" So get yourself a copy and enjoy – any translation will do!
On Purim, however, the Megillah becomes even more than just a good story. As it is read aloud on the evening and morning of the holiday, the narrative comes to life. The atmosphere at these services is often festive, with many people arriving in costume. Furthermore, the synagogue becomes boisterous as congregants traditionally use graggers (noisemakers) to drown out Haman's name every time it is read.
Esther, Hadassah and You!
As Hadassah looks towards its Centennial, we honor our roots as a study circle by connecting the history of Hadassah's founding around Purim with what it means to be a modern-day Esther. Esther Through the Lenses, our Centennial study of Megillat Esther weaves together text and step-by-step analysis with your comments into a comprehensive online educational tool. Commentary on Esther will be posted monthly, along with relevant questions for discussion. Esther Through the Lenses is exclusive for Hadassah members. Log onto your MyHadassah account, click on the Esther Through the Lenses icon, and start today!
Wine, Dine, and Nosh a Hamantasch
Happiness comes in many shapes and forms, but there's nothing like delicious food to make people smile. And on Purim, there is a variety of culinary treats to satisfy every craving and taste bud!
For example, one of the most well-known and beloved Purim traditions is baking hamantaschen. These delectable triangle-shaped cookies filled with fruit, jelly, or poppy seeds serve as a staple for mishloah manot, the holiday custom of giving baskets of food to friends and neighbors.
The goodies in mishloah manot baskets might be delicious, but be sure to save some room for the Purim seudah! This festive afternoon meal can contain any number of tasty dishes, but it's better known as a time to drink wine. In fact, rabbinic sources state that celebrants should drink until they can't tell the difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordechai.
A Time to Party!
What's holiday joy without a good party? Purim parties are widespread and take many forms. Some people extend their Purim seudah into larger parties, with singing and dancing. Since it's customary to dress up on Purim, many people also hold costume parties, complete with contests for the best costume. For children, there are often Purim carnivals, with games of every variety.
For more information on Purim, visit www.myjewishlearning.com.