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May 30, 2013

Purim: Persian word for lots or lottery.

Megillah Esther: Means scroll of Esther, telling the story of Purim in great detail. It is read on Purim night and again the following morning.

Purim dates: Ta’anit (fast) of Esther on 13 Adar. That evening the story of Purim is read from the Megillah. It is then read again on the morning of the 14th of Adar. Many families have festive Purim meals the afternoon of the 14th of Adar. The 15th of Adar, which is today, is also known as Shushan Purim. Shushan was the capital of Persia, the place where the Purim story takes place. The people who lived in this walled city and other walled cities traditionally celebrate Purim on this day.

Four mitzvot (commandments):During Purim, we hear the Megillah reading. We give money or gifts to the poor. We give two different types of foods to one another (mishloach manot). We have a festive meal.

Why do some get drunk? Some feel an obligation to blur the boundaries separating us from our fellow Jews. Ridding us of our inhibitions can show a deep inner love for one another.

What’s a hamantashen? A German word for Haman’s pockets. It is a triangular shaped pastry often filled with fruit. It is thought that the pastries are a reminder of the type of hat Haman wore.

What’s the deal with the groggers, or noisemakers? Whenever Haman’s name gets read from the Megillah, a lot of noise is made from the congregation. It’s a way to erase this evil character’s name. We read in Exodus 17:14 to erase the remembrance of the evil Amalek. Haman is seen as a descendant of Amalek.

Costumes? A further commemoration of how joyous a festival this is.

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