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Purim

 

WHAT IS IT?
 A joyous holiday celebrating the victory of the Jews over a decree of annihilation put out by King Ahashverosh and his evil advisor Haman. Pronounced “Poor-im.”  The word "Purim" actually means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre. 
WHY IS IT?
 Purim is a historical holiday with no ties to the agricultural cycle. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman, and Mordecai, who raised her as his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahashverosh, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. The villain of the story is Haman, a proto-typical “anti-Semite” who hated the Jews. Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people, and because she was part of the royal family, Esther was able to save them. Purim is a story of intrigue, deception, assassination, a foolish king, a wise and beautiful queen, and a hateful villain. 
WHEN IS IT?
The 14th of the Hebrew month Adar, which usually falls around March. In walled cities since the time of Joshua, like Jerusalem, it is celebrated a day later on the 15th of Adar, known as Shushan Purim.
WHERE IS IT FROM?
The Book of Esther (which is in the Tanach, in the Five Megillot) describes the entire story and records the command to send gifts, have days of feasting and joy, and give special tzedakah. Later the Talmud, mostly in Tractate Megillah, details the rules for its celebration, including permission to dress in costume and even get drunk! (So drunk that one cannot distinguish between “blessed in Mordecai’ and “cursed is Haman.” Of course today, with the terrible dangers of drunk driving and the abuse of alcohol, we promote drinking in moderation!)
WHAT DO WE DO?
There is a tradition to fast the day before Purim (“the fast of Esther”) which recalls the fast Esther made before meeting with the King to plead for the Jews. The primary ritual on Purim is to hear the story read from the Megillah (“scroll.”) There is a party-like atmosphere with people in costumes. Every time the name Haman is read, people hiss, boo, and use noisemakers called “graggers” to drown out his name. Carnival-like celebrations with games and treats are held in the community .  “Shelach-manot” (shlach manos” in Ashkenazi/Yiddish pronunciation) are gifts of two or more delacacies delivered to three or more friends on Purim.  “Matanot l’evyonim” are gifts to the poor, special zedakah given on this holiday. Purim lends itself to parody and humour. It is the day on which we are allowed to make fun of ourselves, our enemies, even our sacred institutions. We are invited to stray from our normal behavior  and participate in “controlled chaos”, giving us an outlet for a healthy questioning  and accentuating the paradox of what is hidden and what is revealed in our lives. 
WHAT DO WE EAT?
Pastries called hamentaschen (meaning Haman's pockets; called in Israel Oznei Haman- Haman’s ears) which are triangular and filled in the middle with fruit or poppy seeds. It is also a custom to eat kreplach or filled dumplings.
WHAT DO WE SAY?
Although Purim is not a “chag” with the sabbath-like restrictions on work; we still say “chag sameach” but add the word “Purim” to say “chag Purim sameach” and refrain from ordinary business out of respect for the holiday. 


RABBI JEREMY SCHWARTZ'S BUBBE'S HAMENTASHEN RECIPE

Ingredients

3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar (or a little more if you like)
3 eggs (either use small eggs or add more flour)
3 cups flour plus extra flour for rolling the dough
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup orange juice and the zest of one orange (these are the words of my mother, but reb Avi says in the name of my sister Ruthy, the juice and rind of a SMALL lemon and orange)
Whatever filling you like (we usually buy store-bought prune, poppy, and apricot plus at least one experimental filling.)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs. Add the citrus zest. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture alternately with the juice to the rest of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour. 
Hopefully, the dough is now rollable. If not, add a little more flour. Take a chunk of the dough and roll it out on a well-floured surface until it's about an eighth of an inch thick. Cut our circles of dough about 3 inches (8 cm) round. Put a teaspoon of filling in the centre of the circles and lift the edges of the circle from three points, pinching the edges together to form the classic hamentasch-Mercedes pattern. Take the remainder of the rolled dough and smush it up and roll it again, continuing the process until you have no more dough. Bake the hamentashen until golden and delicious. 

SIX PURIM TIKKUN OLAM SUGGESTIONS


1. Bring Mishloach Manot to home-bound folks, folks in hospital, or folks in nursing homes. 
2. Dress up in costumes and do Purim skits for residents of nursing homes and hospitals.
3. Host a Purim carnival and donate the entrance fee to tzedakah.
4. Donate the wrapped food you receive from mishloach manot to a local food bank.
5. Use boxed food as a greggar and then collect all the "greggars" for the local food bank.6. Fill yourmishloach manot baskets with Fair Trade products, and try a used clementine box or recycled cereal box as a container for your mishloach manot.

 

Tue, 17 October 2017 27 Tishrei 5778