Purim Celebration

Purim is a celebration of divine providence and protection, a triumph of good over evil bent on destruction. The entire holiday is based on the biblical story of Esther, a tale of deliverance that comes in unexpected ways. The word Purim means “lots” because Haman used this device to determine the best calendar day to destroy the Jewish people (Esth 3:7). This theme of chance and the unexpected twists and turns in Esther’s story resonates throughout this holiday. As a story of survival and victory, Purim is a cultural holiday with several meaningful and colorful traditions. For example, many Jews choose to observe a fast on Adar 13 (a day before Purim) to remember how Esther fasted for three days before approaching the king (Esth 4:16). On Adar 14, the celebration of deliverance commences. It is traditional to add special prayers during services highlighting God’s favor and deliverance from evil. It is customary to give each other food, gifts, treats, and fruit baskets (mishloach manot). Another expression of festive joy is the giving of tzedakah (charitable gifts) to those who have fallen on hard times. It stems from the sense of gratitude for personal well-being despite the circumstances. In Jerusalem, the feast is celebrated all the way through Adar 15.

A broadly practiced tradition is the public reading of the Book of Esther. Hearing the story read is meant to remind us that God could be silent, but still near to those who call on his name. Some communities choose to do special Purim plays and reenact the story to make it more fun. Dressing up for Purim is a big part of the celebration too. Originally, the costumes were the characters of the Esther story, but today, any funny costume will do.

Join our reading of the Megillah of Esther on Sunday, March 24 @ 1 pm at the Synagogue. Everyone is welcome, costumes are encouraged!

Over the years of Jewish history, Purim has become a time of fun, rejoicing, and sometimes just being silly. Some would say that Purim is one of the ways we Jews cope with the harsh reality of our lives. Why? Because danger, persecution, violence, war, and grandiose threats to eradicate all Jews continue to rise from one generation to another since the days of Esther and Mordechai.

Purim in 2024

Celebrating Purim this year takes on a whole new character. The chants “from the river to the sea” are loud reminders to every Jew that the streets of the cities where we live have no shortage of those who wish for our demise. This is a loud reminder that we need God’s protection as much as the Jews of Persia in the days of Esther and Mordechai. Will we trust Hashem or put our faith in something else? That is always up to us. The message of the book of Esther speaks with a fresh voice for us this year.

Would you join us in commemorating Purim this year by sending gifts that express our support and solidarity with those who need it the most? Our Synagogue would like to send gifts and aid to Israel and to Ukraine this season. Would you join us by marking a holiday donation designated to either the community (or by giving a donation to each)?