Purim At A Glance
WHEN IT HAPPENS: The 14th day of Adar (this leap year, II Adar),
which this year corresponds to sundown, Monday, March 17, until sundown,
Tuesday, March 18.
WHAT IT COMMEMORATES: How Queen Esther and Mordechai
thwarted the plans of the evil Haman to kill all the Jews during the reign of
King Ahasuerus of ancient Persia (4th century B.C.E.).
WHAT THE NAME OF THE HOLIDAY MEANS: Purim means
"lots," objects used in making a choice by chance, such as dice. It refers to the
lots cast by Haman to determine the month in which to exterminate the Jews
(Esther 3:7; 9:26).
CEREMONIES AND RITUALS: The main event of Purim is the public
reading of Megillat Esther, the Book of Esther (or Scroll of Esther), commonly
known as the megillah (which in Hebrew means "scroll").
The day before Purim is Tanit Esther, the fast of Esther. This fast begins in the
morning and ends at sundown, although we do not eat until after Maariv, the
evening prayer service, when Purim begins.
In most synagogues, the megillah is read during the evening service.
Some synagogues hold additional readings after the service. The megillah also
is read in the synagogue the next morning, during the Shacharit (morning
prayer service). Some synagogues hold further readings later in the morning.
HOW TO CEIFBRAIE: Attend both the evening and morning readings
of the megillah. Drown out with sound every mention of Haman's name. You
can boo and hiss, or use any type of noisemaker. The traditional type that spins
and makes a clicking noise is known by the Yiddish word grogger.
One of the main themes of Purim is that things are not as they seem.
Accordingly, adults as well as children dress in costume. Purim is a festival of
unbridled joy and a day of fun. Humorous skits, practical jokes and general silli-
ness are part of the day. Aside from the megillah, we observe three practices:
1) We send gifts of food to fellow Jews. The gifts, known as mishloach manot
in Hebrew (sending portions) or shalach manos in Yiddish,•consist of at least two
different types Of food that are ready to eat or can be enjoyed with minimal
2) We give money to the poor. The minimum amount is the lowest denomi-
nation of currency and it must be given to at least two poor persons. Fortunate-
ly, most of us can afford substantially more, so it is proper to be generous.
3) We eat a festive meal. On Purim, we include more wine or liquor with the
meal than usual, enough to make things lively (but not so much as to be unable
to recite the grace after meals). The repast may extend into the evening after
Purim, but it must begin during the daylight hours of Purim.
This year with Purim falling on a Friday, it goes straight into Shabbat, so it's
advisable to conclude the Purim feast during the daylight hours. That's because
its proper to eat a festive meal on Shabbat also and the rabbis advise us to enter
Shabbat with a good appetite.
OTHER RULES AND REGULATIONS INCLUDE:
• In the Shemoneh Esrei, or Amidah (standing) prayer), and in Birleat
Haltlazon (grace after meals), we include the prayer ofAl HaNisim.
• We do not recite the Tachanun (penitential) prayer at morning and after-
• Unlike the major holy days, on Purim all manner of work is permitted: fires
may be kindled; electricity may be turned on and ofl cars may be driven, etc.
THE DAY AFTER PURIM: This is known as Shushan Purim.
The Jews of Shushan, Persia's capital city, did not gain their deliverance until
the 15th of Adar (Esther 9:18). Because Shushan was a walled city, it became the
law that Jews who live in walled cities or in cities that were walled from the time
of Joshua celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar.
Jerusalem is one such place. The only place in North America that qualifies is
Quebec City, Canada.
— Elizabeth Applebaum, AppleTree editor
ANYTHING BUT OLD HAT from page 63
ferred not to write God's name, fear-
ing the scroll might be thrown away
or otherwise improperly handled.
• Another unusual fact about the
holiday is that the events occurred
outside Israel. Every other miracle
since the Exodus that is commemorat-
ed with a holiday took place within
the Land of Israel.
• While most scholars believe that
the word Purim is from the Persian,
meaning "lots," a few suggest that it
does, in fact, come from an Aramaic
word meaning "a small smooth
object" used to determine a lottery
winner. Interestingly, it has a similar
meaning in Arabic.
There's A Seed In your Ear!
Some Jews call hamantashen oznei
Haman, or Haman's ears.
Many years ago, criminals had their
ears cut off before they were hanged.
Haman was, of course, hanged, which
is how "ears" come to be part of
Italian Jews also love this treat, but
they call them orrechi d'Aman, while
in Holland oznei Haman are known
Poppy seed (mohn in Yiddish) is the
most popular filling for hamantashen.
Here are some things you may not
have known about the poppy seed:
• At first glance, poppy seeds appear
round; in fact, they are kidney
• Countries that cultivate poppy
seeds today are Holland, Australia,
Iran, Poland, Russia, Romania,
Argentina and Turkey. The United
States imports most of its poppy seed
from Holland, Australia and Turkey.
• Here are the nutritional facts
about poppy seeds: one teaspoon con-
tains 0.2 mg. of sodium, 40 mg. of
calcium, 20 mg. of potassium and
247 mg. of iron.
• Poppy seeds are indeed derived
from the same plant that produces
opium. However, they are in no way
narcotic because the seeds are not
formed until after the capsule has lost
its ability to produce the drug.
• The poppy flower is the most
prominent symbol of fallen soldiers,
and is used to commemorate
Armistice Day in the United States.
According to author and literary critic
Paul Fussell, the poppy was one of the
most popular subjects of World War I
• In Vienna, poppy seeds make for a
popular dish when mixed with noo-
dles and cheddar cheese and baked. In
India, poppy seeds are pounded and
mixed with yogurt to make a favorite
condiment. In Colombia, poppy seeds
are used to season bunuelos, deep-
fried cakes featuring lemon and
orange peel and sprinkled with pow-
Giving To Others
Several organizations and charities
offer special ways celebrate the spirit
of giving associated with mishloach
• You can send a Purim card to
friends and learn Purim songs and
more with Aish HaTorah. Go to:
• Express your support for members
of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) by
sending - mishloach manot to soldiers
in Israel. Packages include cookies,
flavored almonds, candy, potato chips
and more and range from .$14.99 for
one soldier to $389.99 for a platoon
of 30 soldiers. For information, visit
• This year, students in the Sunday
school at the Birmingham Temple will
be sending mishloach manot to resi-
dents throughout the country —
most of whom they will never even
The students will participate in the
CROP Walk For Hunger, a national
program that donates funds to needy
families. Walking with a chapter from
Farmington Hills, the students collect
pledged money that will be distrib-
uted to national and local charities.
For the first time, those local charities
will include Yad Ezra, the Berkley-
based kosher food pantry.
Lenore Kingston, a fourth-grade
teacher at the Birmingham Temple,
tells her students they should be "ded-
icated to a purpose." She is coordinat-
ing the temple's participation in the
walk, as she has done in past years.
Several months ago Kingston was
invited to a planning meeting for the
CROP walk, where she suggested the
donors consider adding Yad Ezra to
their list of local recipients.
They agreed in a heartbeat.
"It was really neat in terms of the
world situation that we're joining
together," she said. "So much is diffi-
cult now, but everyone [at CROP]
was so welcoming. I was thrilled."
The children will begin preparing
for the walk following the temple's
Purim carnival, which this year carries
the theme, "Under the Sea."