Purim is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar,
commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient
Persian Empire from a plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the
Biblical Book of Esther.
The story of Purim is generally recited from the Megillah, a parchment
scroll on which The Book of Esther is written.
Purim celebrates the bravery of Esther, a Jewish woman chosen to become
part of the Persian king’s harem. Esther kept her Jewish
identity a secret until she learned that the king’s advisor,
Haman, had convinced the king to allow him to exterminate all Jews.
Going before the king without being summoned, a move which could have
cost Esther her life, she revealed to the king her Jewish heritage and
convinced him to stop the mass killing. On the day the executions had
been scheduled, Haman and his sons were hanged instead.
Mordecai, Esther's cousin, replaced Haman as the king's advisor and the
Jews were delivered from being the victims of an evil decree against
them and were instead allowed to destroy their enemies. The day
after the executions was designated as Purim, a day of feasting and
Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the
14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (Adar II in leap years), the day
following the victory of the Jews over their enemies. As with all
Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown on the previous secular day.
Purim is celebrated with public recitations of the Megillah (much noise
and hissing whenever Haman's name is mentioned), the giving of gifts
of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal.
Other Purim customs include drinking wine, wearing masks and costumes,
and public celebrations.
which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day ... on the day that
the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was
turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries.
they gained relief on
the fourteenth, making it a day of feasting and gladness.
instructed them] to
observe them as days
of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and
gifts to the poor.
One of the most long-standing Purim customs is giving Purim gift
baskets brimming with food to friends and gifts of charity to the poor.
The charity custom prescribes that everyone - rich and poor –
should give the same amount of charity, reminding that every person has
an equally crucial role in the destiny of the Jewish people.
The custom of giving Purim gourmet baskets to friends and family, known
as Mishloach Manot or “sending portions”,
prescribes that the Purim basket should contain two different types of
ready-to-eat food. This ensures that everyone has enough food to enjoy
the Purim feast and help to spread feelings of friendship and love.
Harkening back to the evil plot to destroy the Jews, the gift giving
custom is an attempt to perennially repair that rift.
suggests that her peg dolls could be used to re-enact the story of
Purim in which a brave queen triumphs over evil.
there was a Jew in
Shushan the capital whose name was Mordechai. He had brought up
Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had
neither father nor mother; the maiden was beautiful and lov ely. So
when the king's order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many
maidens were gathered in Shushan the capital, Esther was also taken
into the king's palace... And the maiden pleased him and won his favor.
Esther had not made known her people or kindred for Mordechai had
charged her not to make it known.
Dolls by Margaret Bloom
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