Friday, March 09, 2001

Purim: What it's all about

Jewish holiday celebrates escape from persection

By Richelle Thompson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Get out the noisemakers and buy the poppy seeds. Today is Purim, a festive holiday celebrated by Jews throughout the Tristate.

Facts about Purim

        • Like many Jewish holidays, Purim commemorates the escape of Jewish communities from persecution. In this case, Jews in Persia are rescued from a plot to kill them.

[photo] At Hillel Jewish Student Center, Marjorie Singer, 20, of Clifton (left) and UC students box “portions” to send to Jewish U.S. soldiers stationed overseas.
(Stephen M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        • The villain is Haman, a chief minister of King Ahasuerus, who ruled over Persia in the 5th century B.C. Angry with the Jews, Haman arranged for their mass execution. Esther, the queen, was a Jew and pleaded for the lives of her people. Her husband, King Ahasuerus, ordered Haman be hanged instead of the Jews.

        • The holiday is a reminder of hope that one day all Jewish persecution will stop.
How it's celebrated

        • Often, Jews attend synagogue to listen to a reading of the Scroll of Esther, often called the Megilla. During the reading, adults and children may dress up like characters in the story.

        • Every time the name Haman is said, the congregation toots the noisemakers, boos and stamps.

        • Jews often have Hamantaschen, a three-cornered pastry filled with poppy seed or fruit preserves.

        • Another tradition of Purim is that children take baskets of fruit and Hamantaschen to neighbors. This is called sending “portions,” sharing the feast with each other and the poor.

        At Hillel Jewish Student Center, Jewish members carried out the tradition of sending “portions” on a global scale. Students prepared more than 80 Purim packages with small noisemakers, candy and gifts to be sent to Jewish military servicemen on three bases around the world.

        “You can't imagine how meaningful this is for our members,” said Capt. David Kaye, a Jewish Chaplain for the U.S. Air Force.

        Source: Jewish Federation of Cincinnati

After a fashion?
- Purim: What it's all about
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