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Purim: Oakville Judiasm 101

“In every province, and in every city, wherever the King’s command and his decree reached, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a holiday…” (M’gillat Esther 8:17)

Purim in Oakville Bonnie Matchen with her daughter Emma enjoying Purim!

Bonnie Matchen with her daughter Emma enjoying Purim!

In the Jewish calendar we are now in the month of Adar, featuring a favourite Jewish holiday – Purim. Purim in many ways is a Jewish Mardi Gras--a day of raucous humor, irreverence, and revelry.

The Hebrew word purim is the plural form of pur, meaning lot. In the Book of Esther, Haman draws lots to decide on a day to eliminate the Jewish people, though his plan is turned aside by Esther.  It is the book's giving of hope to an oppressed and scattered people that they will prevail, that has made the Book of Esther so beloved in the Jewish community.

Purim has in its customs reading the entire book of Esther, dressing-up, and celebrating with carnivals and games.  Adults are encouraged to drink just enough so that we cannot easily distinguish between the evil Haman and the hero Mordechai.  We are obliged to give extra tzedakah(charity) and special gifts to friends and neighbours (mishloach manot).   We eat a special pastry called “hamantashen” that is shaped like a triangle reminding us of evil Haman’s hat, with jam or other sweet filling in the middle.

It is our hope that celebrating the story of our triumph over insurmountable odds brings joy and contentment in our homes. Shaarei Beth El Congregation will be celebrating Purim with a Purim Carnival & Megillah Reading starting at 5:30 to 8:00 PM.