It’s like a combination birthday and Halloween party; Children, most in costumes one might see at Hallowe’en, running around, chasing each other, or sitting and colouring at tables provided with whatever is needed. Some adults too wear costumes or masks. It’s called Purim and it’s one of the happiest festivals in the Jewish calendar. It took place March 5 at Beth Jacob Synagogue. “It’s a fun festival,” said Rabbi Jeremy Parnes. It commemorates an event that occurred during the reign of the ancient Persian King Ahasuerus who, at the behest of his beloved queen who was a Jew, delivered the Jews from an early Holocaust plotted by Haman, one of the king’s chamberlains. The March 5 festival began in the evening with a clown who engaged the children in several games followed with the reading of the Megillat Esther that tells the story.
Esther is the king’s favourite because of her beauty. After she is chosen by the king, her uncle Mordecai cautions her not to reveal she and her people are Jews. As events unfold, Mordecai hears of a plot by two chamberlains to kill the king. The king is warned, the two are dispatched and Haman, next in line, is elevated as the king’s right hand man. He becomes so full of himself that he demands people bow down to him. Mordecai however, refuses and Haman becomes upset and sets in motion a plan to kill Mordecai and all the Jews in the kingdom. He convinces the king that Jews are a menace to his rule and the king orders their destruction. But Mordacai hears of this, gets word to his niece, who because she is his favourite agrees to anything she desires including even half his kingdom. The king learns it was Mordecai who got word to him of the earlier plot, elevates him to a place of honour, reverses his order to eliminate the Jews and orders that Haman and his 10 sons be hanged. During the recitation of the Megillat the people are encouraged to shake rattles or boo whenever Haman’s name is mentioned.
The evening includes wine for the adults and plenty of hamentaschen a special fruit cookie usually served at the Purism festival.