February 22, 2021

Chag Purim Sameach! – VIDEO

by joeyphoenix

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Curated and Written by Arielle Kaplan אריאלה פרוימה (she/her/hers)

Purim is a Jewish festival which takes place annually on the 14th of the month of Adar (which moves around on the Western calendar, as the Jewish calendar is lunar). This year, it begins at sundown on February 25 and ends at sundown on February 26 (Jewish holidays begin at sundown instead of sunup).

Purim Events and Happenings

What is Purim?

The Purim story takes place in the Persian diaspora of Jews in the 5th century BCE and celebrates the triumph of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, over King Ahashuerus’s evil vizier, Haman, who wants to annihilate the Jewish community in the city of Shushan.

The word Purim itself means “lots”, which represents the lots which Haman drew to decide on the day to wipe out the Jewish community. We celebrate Purim to remember the bravery and cunning of Esther (in Hebrew, Hadassah), as she saved her people from Haman’s machinations.

On this holiday (in Hebrew, chag), we read the Scroll of Esther, which is commonly known as The Megillah. Often, this reading is presented as a small community production called a Purim Schpiel, with music, costumes, and dancing.

How to Celebrate Purim

We eat triangle shaped cookies called hamantaschen, which are supposed to be shaped like Haman’s hat, and speaking of the bad guy, every time his name is said aloud in the Megillah reading, the community shakes noisemakers called graggers and hiss and boo his name to drown it out.

We traditionally exchange gifts of food and drink which are known as mischloch manot, and give to charity. More traditionally observant Jews fast the day before the reading of the Megillah, to commemorate Esther’s fast she undertook the night before confronting her husband the king, about Haman’s evil plan. 

Editor’s Note: Looking for a non-traditional Hamantaschen recipe? Check out this recipe.

Additionally, we dress up in costumes and have celebratory parties all in the name of celebrating our survival. And for those of us over 21, this is a particular favorite holiday, as we are commanded in the story to get so fershnicket (drunk), that by the end of the celebration, we are unable to tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman. 

This chag truly sums up the Jewish idea of: they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!

Arielle Kaplan אריאלה פרוימה (she/her) is a Reform Cantorial Soloist, actor, and Director of Operations for Creative Collective. Purim is her favorite holiday.

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