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Purim: "The Feast of Lots"

The Jewish celebration of their victory over the Persian Viceroy Haman and his army in Persian. This story is told in the Bibilical book of Esther.
by

William Bond

on 23 June 2011

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Transcript of Purim: "The Feast of Lots"

Purim: The Feast of Lots Historical Background: In the 4th century BCE, the Jewish Kingdom was under the control of the mighty Persian Empire. Ahasuerus was the King of Persia, and he was looking for a wife. Mordechai, leader of the Jews, brought forth his cousin Esther, also an orphan he had adopted, before the King. Ahasuerus chose Esther as his Queen, but she hid her ethnicity from the King...however, the King had also chosen a new Prime Minister, Haman. Haman would enact an anti-Semitic decree that would eliminate the Jewish people due to Mordechai's refusal to worship him, which was the law. Mordechai upon hearing this decree asked Esther to speak with Ahasuerus. Esther told Mordechai to gather all the Jewish people in Shushan to fast, and pray to Yahweh for three days. After the three days, Esther spoke with her husband and revealed the truth that she was a Hebrew and would be killed under Haman's decree. Ahasuerus had Haman hung upon hearing this news. Mordechai was made Prime Minister of Persia, and legislation was put forth to counter Haman's decree. The Jewish people were allowed to pursue all their enemies. Mordechai and Esther established a holiday to commemorate this event. King Ahasuerus Mordechai with Esther Haman Rituals of Purim: Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the month of Adar.

To celebrate Purim people read from the Book of Esther, commonly known as the Megillah, and will boo, hiss, stomp feet, and rattle gragers when the name Haman is mentioned. The purpose is to blot out the name of Haman.

People eat, drink, and are very merry during Purim. Gifts of food or drink are sent out, and gifts are given to charity. This practice is known as shalach manos (lit. sending out portions).

It is common to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests. Some refer to Purim as the Jewish Mardi Gras. Grager Foods of Purim: The most well-known food of Purim is a filled pastry called hamantaschen, a Yiddish term meaning "Haman's pockets."The pastry itself is filled with poppyseeds, prune, almond paste, or various jams. Another tradition has it that the filling, which is hidden in the traditional yeast dough, symbolizes God's hidden presence.

A special Purim challah, known as keylitsh [kulich] in Russian, is sometimes made. This challah is oversized and extensively braided. The braids on the challah are intended to remind people of the rope used to hang Haman.

Kreplach is commonly eaten on Purim. It consists of triangular pouches of dough filled with chopped meat. They are eaten as a separate dish or served in soup.

Bean dishes are also eaten. They include salted beans boiled in their jackets, and chickpeas boiled and seasoned with salt and pepper: This is meant to remind us that Esther would not eat anything at the court of King Ahasuerus that was not kosher, so she mainly ate peas and beans. Kreplach Challah Hamantaschen Miscellaneous: The word “Purim” means “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.

Past dates of Purim:

February 28, 2010 (Jewish Year 5770)
March 20, 2011 (Jewish Year 5771)
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