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Purim | Jewish Holidays Explained | PJCC
The Book of Esther recounts the story of Purim,
telling of how the Jews of Persia were saved from
destruction. During the time of King Ahashuerus,
one of his ministers, Haman, sought to destroy
the Jews in revenge for being snubbed by the
Jew Mordecai, who refused to bow down to him. With the king’s authority, he drew purim (lots) to determine the fateful day, which fell on the 13th of the month of Adar.
Learning of this decree, Mordecai approached the new queen, his cousin Esther, to intercede with the king. Esther, who had not revealed her Judaism publicly, fasted for three days in preparation for this task. At a banquet, she denounced the evil Haman, who was eventually hanged.
The days following the Jews’ victory over their
enemies (the 14th and 15th of Adar) were
declared days of feasting and merrymaking,
today celebrated as Purim.
Why Do We Celebrate?
Often seen as a classic “good vs. evil” tale, Purim, at its core, is a celebration of religious freedom. We rejoice in the triumph of the Jews over Haman’s attempt to destroy the Jewish people and we celebrate the bravery Queen Esther showed by speaking out publicly on behalf of the community. We acknowledge our good fortune by sharing gifts of food with our friends, family and those in need.
In the Community
Purim is observed by hearing a celebratory public
reading of Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther) and
dressing up in costume. When the name of the
villainous Haman is read, people make noise—
often with the aid of graggers (noisemakers) to
blot the evil villain’s name out.
The reading is usually followed by a festive meal in
which Purim spiels (plays) poking fun at the Purim
story are performed. Many communities hold
carnivals emphasizing the playful element of this holiday.
The traditional food eaten on Purim are
hamantashen, triangle-shaped pastries that
some say resembles the evil villain’s hat (others say his ears)!
One of the most interesting traditions related to Purim is the drinking of alcoholic beverages (by those of drinking age). This stems from the celebratory nature of the holiday and, in the story, the people drank so they couldn't tell the difference between Mordecai (the hero) and Haman (the villain).
Want more ideas for your Purim celebration? Download our Family Holiday Fun Pack for Purim, created with the help of Jewish LearningWorks!
Courtesy of Rhonda Press
Cookie Dough:add to shopping list
- 1/2 cup butter (1 cube)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 - 2-1/4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg (whole, white, or yolk for glazing)
- 1 can of your favorite flavor filling (ex. Solo brand; apricot, prune, poppy seed) or favorite jam
Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix and sift the baking powder and flour. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter mixture and beat. Add milk and beat. Then add remaining flour and vanilla. Mix well. Form into a flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 1/2 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll chilled dough about 1/8' thick on to a lightly floured board. cut into rounds, about 3" in diameter. Place a small spoonful of filling in the center of each round (about 1/2 teaspoon). Pinch Edges together to form traditional triangle shape and brush with beaten egg.
Bake on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Makes about 2-3 dozen.