Mediterranean Monday: Purim

It is holiday time here in Israel: Purim.  Purim is the holiday that celebrates the saving of the Jewish people (once again) from the Persian Empire, according to the book of Esther.  It is celebrated from the 13-15th during the month of Adar (the Jewish calendar), which is today, tomorrow and Wednesday.  If you are not familiar with the story, then you can find it in the Bible or Tenach.  (Don’t worry, its a short book.)

There are 4 things a Jewish person MUST do during Purim:

1. Listen to the story of Esther, either in the bet-knesset or at home.  Usually the first night is reserved for the telling of the story by parents to the family.

2. Send a gift of food to at least one friend.  

3. Give charity to the poor.

4. Eating the Purim meal, and drinking alcohol.  

Even the Orthodox Jews drink alcohol during Purim.  It is one of the only times that they are ‘allowed’ to do so, and drink they do!  They are told to drink until they cannot distinguish between the evil of Haman and the good of Mordachai.  

Modern day Purim has also been influenced by the Western Civilization’s adaptation of Carnival.  Over time it has become a blend of the two, since they seem to overlap on the calendar.  Now, not only do people observe the 4 laws during Purim, but it has also become a costume/party fest.  Each night everyone dresses up in costumes and parties. Yesterday, while I was at the hospital visiting the Shevet kids, a group of teenage girls came in dressed in various costumes, giving out Hamantashen (a Purim pastry) to all the kids in the hospital.  It was part of their giving to those in need, while at the same time enjoying the fact that they can get dressed up. 

(There is also a pretty good movie adaption of the story of Esther called One Night With the King, FYI)

About Maureen Hochdorf

Writer. Editor. High Techi. Non-Profit Founder. Traveler. Sports Lover. Star Wars Fanatic. Tel Aviver. Michigander.... View all posts by Maureen Hochdorf

6 responses to “Mediterranean Monday: Purim

  • Jessica Pressley

    fun! did you dress up?

  • annie

    I was just talking to my Hebrew teachers about Purim traditions – they’re the same over here! 😀

  • alece

    are you celebrating purim?

    i find it interesting that they’re told to “drink until they cannot distinguish between the evil of Haman and the good of Mordachai.” i’m wondering why…

    • moweezle

      Well, I am observing Purim…I guess saying celebrating is a stretch. I’m not dressing up drinking myself into a stupor. We had off all week of Ulpan, so that was nice!

  • lovewillbringustogether

    Wow! – what a story (Esther – at least it was up to chapter 8 then it kinda went downhill from there). 🙄

    “For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.” (Esther 10:3)

    The good of his people… peace to all his seed.

    Purim is ‘celebrated’ to this day and likely will be for the lifetime of the Jewish people and religion.

    As seems evident that the same practices Esther describes will also.

    Mordechai is Honoured as a man of God who did great good for his people. Haman is demonised for wanting the same people to be put to death out of selfish pride and respect for the law of the king over the Law of God.

    and what of the 75000 non-Jews put to death as ‘enemies’ of the Jews – an act of wrath and vengeance???

    How is that to be ‘celebrated’ remembered?

    Perhaps in the instruction to drink (as Esther causd the King and Haman to do at her feasts) so that the murderous act of killing 75,000 was somehow made ‘equal’ to the instruction of one (Ha)man that all Jews in the kingdom were to be murdered (but who were not).

    That no-one could ‘remember’ that the commandment (decree) of Mordecai caused the murder of 75 000 men women and children in the King’s name. Just as Haman had decreed under the same King’s name was to be the fate of all Jews in the Kingdom but which was not acted upon.

    Truly – there was no difference in them other than Mordechai did it to ‘Glory God’ and save his people while Haman was led to try to do it for much the same reasoning (from his own perspective).

    Mass murder was still the outcome.

    Happy Purim.


  • Mom

    I will print out your Purim info and read it for my Esther small group Wed. night. I saw that the Jewish Messianic church had some Purim puppet meeting with refreshments afterwards. That would have been interesting to see but I don’t remember what night it was. I think it’s already happened. They meet some place down on G Ave so not too far from us. I’ve seen them advertise before in the church section on something they have going on.

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