Purim Events

During Purim we tell the story of the Book of Esther about a young Jewish woman who married a king and saved her people from destruction by the evil Haman.

We celebrate her victory by reading the Megillat Esther, the scroll which tells her story, in synagogue, dressing in costume and with our world famous Purim Spiel!

View Celebrations & Dates Purim Customs & Rituals

Our Celebrations & Dates

In the Book of Esther, we read that Purim is a time for “feasting and merrymaking,” as well as for “sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor” (Esther 9:22). In addition to reading the Megillah (Book of Esther), many children and adults dress in costumes, have festive parties, perform Purim spiels (plays), send baskets of food (mishloach manot) to friends, and give gifts to the poor (matanot l’evyonim).

Purim Customs and Rituals

Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen (Yiddish for Haman’s pockets) are three-cornered pastries filled with poppy seeds (mohn in Yiddish), fruit preserves, chocolate, or other ingredients that are traditionally eaten on Purim. In Israel during the weeks leading up to Purim, the aroma of freshly baked hamantaschen can be smelled on every block. Their triangular shape is thought to be reminiscent of Haman’s hat or ears.

Bake some Hamantaschen!
Monday Morning Club shares a wonderful recipe for fail-proof hamantaschen. Fill them with chocolate, jam, walnuts and sugar, plum povidl (jam), poppyseeds, nutella and sultanas… whatever takes your fancy!

Click here for recipe

Costumes

As part of the carnival-like atmosphere of Purim, many children and adults wear costumes. Some attribute this tradition to the fact that Esther initially “masked” her Jewish identity. Now a vibrant and widely practiced custom, some choose to dress as characters from the Purim story, while others select Jewish heroes from throughout history.

In the Synagogue

The Megillah (scroll) most often refers to Megillat Esther (The Scroll of Esther) which also is known as the “Book of Esther.” According to the Talmud, “The study of Torah is interrupted for the reading of the Megillah.” Maimonides, a 12th century sage and rabbi, teaches, “The reading of the Megillah certainly supersedes all other mitzvot.”

Traditionally, the Book of Esther is read at both evening and morning services on Purim. A number of customs are associated with the reading. Haman, the enemy of the Jews in this story, is associated with all those who have tried to destroy the Jewish people throughout history. Therefore, we make loud noises—verbally or with noisemakers—at every mention of Haman’s name in order to drown it out. Derived from the Polish word meaning “rattle,” a grogger is the noisemaker used to drown out the name of Haman during the reading of the Megillah. Beginning in the 13th century, Jews throughout Europe sounded the grogger as a part of their Purim celebrations.

A Purim spiel is a humorous skit presented on Purim. Most parody the story of the Book of Esther, but it also is common for participants to take the opportunity to poke some gentle fun at themselves and their idiosyncrasies.

Chag Purim – (Hava Narisha RASH RASH RASH!) Learn the joyful Purim song that kids love.

At home

For children (and some grownups too) one of the most enjoyable of Purim is getting to make noise – and lots of it! When you hear the name, “Haman”, the villain of the Purim story, shake your gragger, or noisemaker.

Don’t have a gragger on hand? It is easy to make one!: Click here for ideas

Mishloach manot are gifts of food that friends (and prospective new friends!) exchange on Purim. Often presented in baskets, most mishloach manot include hamantaschen, the traditional three-sided pastry eaten on Purim, but may also include a wide variety of foods and treats. These gifts are frequently referred to by their Yiddish name, shalachmanos.

Many families make mishloach manot baskets at home and distribute then to friends. Many families also make hamantaschen to include in these baskets and to enjoy at home.
Matanot l’evyonim (gifts to the poor) are gifts given at this season to those in need so that they, too, can celebrate Purim with a special meal. Many families have committed to participating in this important social justice aspect of the holiday.

Activities

Want to get in the mood? Here is a great Purim playlist:


How much do you know about the Purim story? Try this fun Purim quiz!


Purim is a day when norms are subverted and reversed to commemorate the reversal of fortune recorded in the Book of Esther. How much do you know about Purim?

Test your knowledge with this quiz from My Jewish Learning: Click here

Raise Your Mask Purim – The Fountainheads

7 Fun Facts about Purim you probably didn’t know!

1. The dressing up originated from Italy in the 15th Century influenced by the Roman carnival.

2. The term Purim refers to the lottery system that Haman used to decide that the massacre would be on (this fell on the 14th day of Adar). On a leap year, when there are two months of Adar, Purim is celebrated in the second month of Adar, so it always falls one month before Passover.

3. Traditionally Jews used to burn an effigy of Haman in the street – similar to Guy Fawkes.

4. Seeds and Nuts are commonly eaten on Purim because Queen Esther mostly ate these in the palace as she didn’t have access to kosher food.

5. The fast of Esther commemorates how Esther fasted for 3 days to work up the courage to tell the King that she was Jewish.

6. The fastest megillah reading in history is 14 minutes by Rabbi Mendy Pape of the Montreal Chabad. (Emanuel Synagogue’s reading is usually a more leisurely hour and almost certainly more entertaining!)

7. Communities around the world have their own Purim traditions. For example, in Italy, children would divide into two camps and throw nuts at each other. In the Yemenite town of Asaddeh, it was customary to make a large effigy of Haman out of rags. This was placed on a donkey and led by the children from house to house. Each householder gave the children lollies, and beat, spat or even threw dirty water over the Haman on the donkey!

For more about the special services, programmes and events throughout the year, visit our festivals page or get in touch with Sarah for more information

Festivals
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Get in touch

Toni Rozen

Community Happiness Coordinator

tonir@emanuel.org.au (02) 9389 6444
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