Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Purim, A Holiday with a Timely Message

Deliverance from Destruction is Worth Remembering

Homemade hamentaschen. Photo by Yoninah.

"In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day ... on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries." - Esther 9:1

"And they gained relief on the fourteenth, making it a day of feasting and gladness." - Esther 9:17

[Mordecai instructed them] "to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor." - Esther 9:22

For a gentile, I'm told, I make a pretty good Hamantaschen! A while ago I had the assignment to teach the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther in our church in an adult sunday school. The class began in Winter and was to end in early March. Of course we would have to celebrate Purim! Just as Passover has food traditions that are an integral part of telling the story, Purim does as well.

So here I was baking cookies for my class. My lovely wife banned all jokes about Mrs. Clinton as I searched websites for a recipie. I chose the one that included this descriptive from the woman who posted it: My kids love them so much they don't want to share them! This kid tested and Mother approved treat was well received by the adult sunday school.

The class was instructed as to how Esther would be read. The mention of Haman was to be greeted with boos, cat calls and all manner of impolite noise in keeping with the best tradition of Purim celebration. We had a great time!

More important, we impressed the history of this reading into our memories.

So when I read This Piece by Richard Z. Chesnoff about Jews in Iran today [click to read] and how New York Times columnist Roger Cohen makes it sound like this persecuted minority lives happily in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's neighborhood, I was incredulous. I've always thought of Ahmadinejad as a modern day Haman [he did say he wanted to destroy Israel, didn't he]?

Modern day Agagites have continued to threaten the existence of the Jewish people. There are other 'Purims' celebrated to remember deliverance from other would-be destroyers. The Purim Vintz is observed in Frankfurt am Main to remember the Fettmilch uprising in 1616 when Vincenz Fettmilch attempted to destroy the Jewish community there.

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with President Obama and presented him with a scroll of the book of Esther. The message of this gift could not be more profound!

This year Purim begins at sunset on March 7. Learn more about this holiday at Judaism 101 [click to read]. The site even has a recipe for hamentaschen!


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