Category Archives: Purim

Purim

When it is Purim, I think of my friends Georges Banet and Judith Klau, who introduced me to the holiday years ago one Purim with a mitzvah, a good deed. They brought me a Purim box that contained two hamantaschen, pastries in the shape of a triangular hat, filled with all manner of deliciousness (the ones they brought me were prune-filled and poppyseed-filled). The printed box explained the story of Purim, which essentially is this: In ancient Persia, Haman, the royal vizier to the king, plotted to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plot was discovered and foiled by Queen Esther and her father, Mordecai. It’s a story from the Book of Esther.

Each year at Purim, the story is retold in the reading of the Megillah, and each time the name Haman is spoken, the congregation boos and hisses and twirls graggers to drown it out. The pastries are meant to evoke Haman’s hat. And then there are costumes! Purim is a bit like Halloween in springtime: kids dress up in costumes for the day and great parties ensue. The costumes traditionally call to mind the characters of the story, but don’t be surprised to see all kinds of costumes on Purim, which begins this year with the setting sun tonight, this last day of February. Gragger away!

Image: A 1951 photograph of elementary school students in costumes for the Purim parade at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons. I love the fairy on the left.

 

Graggers & Hamantaschen

Purim

Here comes a fun holiday in the Jewish calendar: the setting sun on this 23rd of March brings Purim, a springtime holiday celebrated with costumes and lots of noise and special pastries made in the shape of a hat. The pastries are called hamantaschen, named for the triangular hat of a rather evil chap named Haman. The abundance of noise comes in the form of boos and hisses and the twirling of special noisemakers called graggers whenever Haman’s name is spoken on Purim, and it all goes back to an event that took place in ancient Persia as recorded in the Book of Esther. Haman, the royal vizier to the king, plotted to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plot was discovered and foiled by Queen Esther and her father, Mordecai. On each Purim, the story of these events is told in the reading of the Megillah, and each time the name Haman is spoken, the congregation boos and hisses and twirls graggers to drown it out.

It’s also a day of fanciful costumes. Just like at Halloween, there are traditional Purim costumes––the main characters of the story are the most traditional of Purim costumes. But it’s also not uncommon to see all sorts of costumes on Purim, and the image above is taken from a book about Purim by David Wander. It’s a one-of-a-kind painted artists’ book in the Jaffe Collection at Florida Atlantic University, and in it, the costumes range from Esther and Haman to Teletubbies and Power Rangers. It all looks like great fun, if you ask me.

As for the hamantaschen, they are meant to evoke the hat of Haman, but certainly they are tastier than any hat. They are triangles of sweet dough filled with poppyseed or prune fillings, traditionally, but you might find other fillings, too. Another Purim tradition is to bestow gifts of food… and you can bet your bottom dollar that hamantaschen will be part of those gifts. That was how I first learnt of Purim… thanks to a gift of hamantaschen bestowed upon me one Purim by my friends Georges and Judith. Georges is gone now, but I’ll remember him probably every Purim because of that gift. And Judith is someone I often see on Wednesdays. How lucky for me that Purim begins this year on a Wednesday evening: I’ll get to wish her a happy Purim… and if I’m lucky, she may even bring me a hamantaschen. I hope it’s poppyseed.

Locals! Come see Seth and me tonight at Social House in Downtown Lake Worth! We won’t exactly be celebrating Purim, but we will be celebrating local community and art. It’s the Fine Art edition of Social House’s ongoing Maker Meet events, and we’re excited to be there featured with other fine local artists. 6 to 9 PM at Social House, 512 Lucerne Avenue in beautiful Downtown Lake Worth. If you do come by, be sure to say hello and let me know you’re a Convivio Book of Days reader.

 

Graggers & Hamantaschen

Purim

The setting sun on the 15th of March this year brings Purim, a springtime holiday in the Jewish calendar that is marked with costumes, noise-making, and eating hat-shaped pastries. If that sounds like too much fun to pass up, maybe you should join in the fun.

Purim is, at its core, a commemoration of an event that took place in ancient Persia as recorded in the Book of Esther. Haman, the royal vizier to the king, plotted to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plot was discovered and foiled by Queen Esther and her father, Mordecai. On each Purim, the story of these events is told in the reading of the Megillah, and each time the name Haman is spoken, the congregation boos and hisses and twirls graggers to drown it out.

It’s also a day of wonderful costumes. It’s traditional to dress as the main characters from the Purim story, but then again, it’s not uncommon to see all manner of costumes on Purim. And then there are the hamantaschen––small pastries shaped as a triangle, like Haman’s hat, filled traditionally with poppyseed or prune. It is traditional to offer gifts of food to others on Purim, and in fact my very first hamantaschen was one such gift. My friends Georges and Judith brought me two hamantaschen at work one Purim, and told me all about the story of Esther and the evil Haman and the graggers to blot out his name. I thought the hamantaschen were delicious, and I thought the whole thing sounded like great fun. Happy Purim.

 

Image: When Georges and Judith brought me those first hamantaschen, they came in a box that also told the story of Purim and I pasted some of the more interesting graphics from the box into my journal. The date was March 18, 2003. I’m guessing that must be Esther and the king amidst floating hamantaschen.