Purim, which literally means “lots,” is the Jewish holiday in which Jews commemorate being saved from persecution in the ancient Persian Empire. The holiday of Purim celebrates the bravery of Esther and Mordechai and the safety of the Jewish people from Haman’s evil decree. Over the centuries, Haman has come to symbolize every hateful act towards Jews across the world. The importance of Purim is not so much in how it began, but in what it has become: a thankful and joyous celebration of Jewish survival. Now we celebrate with costumes, parties, music, and of course the HAMANtaschen cookie!
The story of Purim reminds us to stand up for ourselves and those around us, just as Esther and Mordechai did for the Jewish people long ago. It shows us to honor where we came from and those we are connected to.
How do we celebrate?
Purim is the most raucous holiday on the Jewish calendar and occurs on the 14th day of the month of Adar. This year it begins at sundown on February 25th and ends at sundown on February 26th.
- Dress in costume: some people choose to dress as characters from the Purim story, and others dress in non-Purim-related costumes. We hope to see all your costumes at our scavenger hunt!
- Read the Megillah: It is a mitzvah (commandment) to listen to the story of Purim from The Book of Esther. It is customary to make a loud noise with a noisemaker called a grager (ra’ashan in Hebrew) or to “boo!” every time Haman’s name is mentioned to blot out Haman’s name (boo!).
- Give to charity: Part of the holiday also includes giving gifts or charity to the poor. It is customary to give to at least two people or to donate to your local synagogue. You can also donate to SJCC’s Mitzvah Corps bin (see details here), which helps neighbors in need.
- Feast! On Purim day, February 26, gather your family and celebrate with a festive meal. We enjoy challah, meat, hamentashen (the traditional triangle-shaped cookie that symbolizes Haman’s hat), wine, and plenty of Jewish songs, words of Torah, and joyous Purim spirit. Sing, drink, laugh, have fun together!
Celebrate Purim with the J
Purim Family Scavenger Hunt
February 28 | 9 am-3 pm
Join us for a Purim-themed scavenger hunt around Mercer Island! We’ll release the first clue on our Facebook page at 9 am on Feb 28, which will lead you on an adventure! The hunt ends with hamantashen and prizes for the whole family. Don’t forget to drop off your non-perishable food donations to our Mitzvah Corp bin! Best for ages 3+. Buy tickets >>
Be Your Own Esther Virtual Workshop
March 1 | 4 pm-5 pm
In this interactive, virtual workshop, geared toward kids ages 8-12, we’ll all learn how to be our own Esther. We’ll explore ways to help kids feel strong in mind, body, and spirit as they transition back to in-person school during COVID. Register >>
Purim Tot Shabbat
February 26 | 9:45 am-10:30 am
Join us for a Purim-themed Tot Shabbat with Chava and Dr. E! Register >>
To find other Purim events in our community, check out The Jewish Federation of Seattle’s Purim 2021 Guide to Events here.
- “The Story of Purim” by Mayim Bialik: watch here >>
- “The Princess of Persia: Go Esther!” by Bim Bam: watch here >>
- PJ Library Purim resources
- Chabad’s Purim recipes
- Purim 101 from My Jewish Learning
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