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Everything you ever wanted to know
about this festival day.
hen It Happens
On the 14th of Adar,
which this year corre-
sponds to sundown
Saturday, March 6, until sundown
Sunday, March 7.
What The Name Means
Purim means "lots," objects used in
making a choice by chance. It refers to
the lots cast by Haman to determine the
month in which to exterminate the Jews
(Esther 3:7; 9:26).
What It Commemorates
How Queen Esther and Mordechai
thwarted the plans of Haman to kill all
the Jews during the reign of King
Ahasuerus of ancient Persia (4th century
Ceremonies And Rituals
The main event of Purim is the public
reading of Megillat Esthen the Book of
Esther, or Scroll of Esther, commonly
known as the megillah (which in
Hebrew means "scroll").
The day before Purim is Taanit Ester;
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. This
year, however, because the fast day
would fall on Shabbat, it is moved ahead
and will instead be observed on
Thursday, March 4.
On Purim, in most synagogues, the
megillah is read during the evening serv-
ice. Some synagogues hold additional
readings after the service. The megillah
also is read in the synagogue the next
morning, during the Shacharit service.
Some have further readings later in the
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 gen-
eral silliness are part of the day. Aside
from the megillah, we observe three
1) Send gifts of food to fellow Jews.
The gifts, known as mishloach manot
("sending portions"), consist of at least
two different types of food that are ready
to eat or can be enjoyed with minimal
2) Give money to the poor. The mini-
mum amount we give is the lowest
denomination of currency — and it
must be given to at least two poor per-
sons. It is proper to be generous.
How To Celebrate
3) Eat a festive meal. On Purim,
We attend both the evening and
include more wine or liquor with the
morning readings of the megillah.
-- meal than usual, enough to make things
Drown out with sound every mention
lively (but not so much as to be unable
of Haman's name. You can boo and
to recite the grace after meals). The
hiss or use any type of noisemaker.
repast may extend into the evening after
The traditional type that spins and
Purim, but it must begin during the
makes a clicking noise is known in
daylight hours of Purim.
Yiddish as a grogger.
A Little Purim
AppleTree looks at other miraculous times
the Jews were saved.
n 1942 a miracle occurred in
Casablanca. Local Nazis rioted,
and threatened, but the Jewish
community there survived intact.
In honor of this occasion, and in grat-
itude to God, the rabbis instituted
what's known as a Purim Katan, a minor
Purim, on the 2nd of Kislev. This one
bears the name of its evil instigator:
This week we celebrate what might be
called the best-known Purim, the one
involving Esther and Mordechai. But
Jewish history is replete with several
occasions known as Purim Katan, other
celebrations which, like their namesake,
mark extraordinary times when God has
saved the Jewish people. These minor
Purim celebrations are generally
observed by the individual Jewish corn-
m.unities affected and celebrated with a
special meal and with donations to char-
ity. Some communities also would insti-
tute a fast before the Purim Katan, and
read a scroll recounting how the corn-
munity was saved.
A few celebrations of Purim Katan
from Jewish history:
In 1339 in Spain, the king's adviser,
Gonzales Martinez, hoped to annihilate
the entire Jewish community of Spain.
His plans were thwarted, and Purim
Martinez is observed on the 1st of Adar.
In 1742 in Italy, a terrible earthquake
destroyed much of the town of Leghorn
(later famous as the birthplace of Italian-
Jewish artist Amadeo Modiglilani). The
Jewish community survived. This is
observed on the 12th of Shevat.
In 1744 in Russia, the Jews of
Mstislavl were saved from destruction by
the Cossacks. This Purim, Katan is
observed on the 4th of Shevat.
In 1722 in Baghdad, the Jewish com-
munity was relieved from oppression by
the Persians. The Purim Katan is on the
11th of Av.
In 1809 in Italy, another earthquake
rocked the city of Sermide, and once
again the Jewish community miracu-
Rules And Regulations
In the Shemonah Esrei, or Amidah
(standing prayer) and in Birkat
HaMazon (grace after meals), include
the prayer of Al HalVissim. Do not recite
the Tachanun (penitential) prayer at
morning and afternoon services. Unlike
the major holy days, on Purim all man-
ner of work is permitted: fires may be
kindled, electricity may be turned on
and off, 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 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 quali-
fies is Quebec City, Canada. ❑
lously survived. Observed on the 25th
In 1819 in Sarajevo, 10 leaders of the
Jewish community were falsely charged
and set to be executed. They were freed,
and this Purim Katan is celebrated on
the 4th of Cheshvan.
In 1806 in Bulgaria, the Jewish com-
munity feared certain mob attack when
rumors spread that the country's leader
had died of poisoning — by his Jewish
physician. Yet the community was
unharmed. Observed on the 4th and
5th (sometimes the 9th and 10th) of
In 1648 in Poland, the infamous anti-
Semite Bogdan Chelminicki planned an
attack on the Jewish community of
Medzibezh. The Jews were saved, and
this Purim Katan comes on the 11th of