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Purim is a festival of celebration and joy. It commemorates the saving of the Jews from extermination at the hands of the Persians. The story is told in the book of Esther.

Between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE the area that we now called the Middle East was ruled by Persia. 

According to the book of Esther, Haman, the prime minister of Persia, plotted to kill all the Jews. Esther, the emperor’s consort, and her cousin Mordechai sought to save the Jews. They went to the emperor and spoke on behalf of all the Jews. Before visiting the emperor, Esther fasted for three days. The emperor welcomed Esther and later she told him of Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews. Haman was arrested and executed.

The Jewish people were saved. The book of Esther does not mention the name God, but refers to the fact that God works in many different ways that are not always apparent.

  • Reading of the Megillah

    Purim means ‘lots’ (as in drawing lots) and refers to the lottery Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.

    The most important feature of Purim is the reading of the Megillah (a scroll containing the story of Esther). As the story is being read, it is a tradition that every time the name of Haman is mentioned everyone boos, hisses, stamps their feet or makes a noise with a rattle. This is to blot out the name of Haman. However, care should be taken that this does not detract from the reading.

    Purim is a time of great celebration and lightheartedness.