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Purim Megillah Reading 5781/2021

What is Purim?

Purim is one of the most fun holidays celebrated by the Jewish people, but is often under recognized.

Purim (held on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar) commemorates the day Esther, Queen of Persia, saved the Jewish people from execution by Haman, the advisor to the Persian king. Esther bravely exposed her previously hidden Jewish heritage to her husband the king and asked him to save her people, which he did.

Here are some of the traditions that make the holiday so fun:

  • There's lots of food and drink
    • Many Jewish holidays incorporate stricter rules, which could include mandatory fasting, but Purim is much more relaxed. There is only a minor fast the day before Purim, which commemorates the three days Esther fasted before approaching the king. Then, the holiday itself is known for a party atmosphere, with big feasts where you can eat and get drunk (within reason, but it is encouraged).
  • There's Hamantaschen
    • Speaking of food, one of the best treats for Purim are hamantaschen: triangle-shaped cookie pastries with fruit or savory filling. The treat is said to look like Haman's tri-cornered hat or his ears ("oznei Haman" in Hebrew). Sweet hamantaschen are most popular, with poppy seed, chocolate, date, apricot, or apple filling.
  • There's fun heckling
    • During the synagogue service, the "megillah," or scroll, of Esther is read aloud,. Because the book says Haman's name was "blotted out," everyone in the synagogue stamps their feet, yells, and heckles using "groggers" (ratchet noisemakers) all 54 times his name is read in the story.
  • There are baskets of candy
    • A Purim tradition is to send out baskets of food and drink ("shalach manot"/"mishloach manot") to family and to the poor. They are to be filled with food that is ready to eat — pastries, wine, candy, chips, and other snack foods certainly count.
  • There are carnivals
    • On Purim, there are often carnivals, with revelers dressing up, dancing and having parades. Kids have tons of fun at these events, doing crafts, making Purim baskets, playing games and making noise-makers. Carnival attendees enjoy showing off their costumes; anything from Biblical characters like Moses or Esther and Haman.
  • Give Charity/Matanot L'evyonim
    • One of the holiday's religious requirements is to give directly to at least two people in need. The Jewish sage Maimonides instructs us not to be too discerning. “Anyone who puts out his hand to take should be given money.”
    • Matanot L’evyonim should be given early enough on Purim so that the poor can benefit on the holiday. 
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Fri, June 18 2021 8 Tammuz 5781