Pondering Purim

We donned our crazy hats and masks; Nathan assigned us parts. He’d written his version of the Purim Play (Spiel); the dramatic and humorous explanation of the holiday.  In brief, Purim celebrates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. King Achasverosh announces a contest to find a new bride and summons all the eligible women to the palace. He selects Esther, who lives with her Uncle Mordecai. Esther doesn’t tell the king that she’s Jewish. Meanwhile, Haman, the king’s evil advisor, convinces the king to annihilate the Jews because they don’t follow all the laws of the kingdom. He’s particularly mad at Mordecai who refused to bow down to him in public.  When Esther hears of Haman’s plan, she appeals to the king on behalf of the Jewish people, putting her own life at risk.  Achasverosh listens and orders Haman hanged.

The holiday is celebrated with eating (of course), and often joyous dancing, music, and skits.  Costumes are worn, for many reasons, one being to emulate how Esther hid her identity from the King.  Nathan and his wife were dressed as pirates; Jacob arrived cloaked in white robes, representing Gandalf; his wife wore a sari.  It’s popular to dress as people from the story or as anything else that disguises one’s identity.

My Poppy Seed Hammantaschen

My Poppy Seed Hammantaschen

In costume

In costume

And like any costume-wearing event, there’s always the potential for appearing inappropriate.

Like Dov Hikind, a New York state assemblyman who dressed up for Purim by darkening his skin with face paint, wearing an Afro wig and basketball jersey.  The Democrat, who represents an area of Brooklyn that’s home to many Orthodox Jews, sponsors an annual Purim party.  His costume choice drew criticism from community leaders and clergy, who felt he’d displayed a lack of empathy and overall poor judgment.

Hikind contended, “There’s not a prejudiced bone in my body,” and later apologized if his costume offended anyone.

Given the many costumes available, here’s hoping he remembers next year.


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
This entry was posted in celebrations, commentary, Family, food, Grandchildren, Judaism. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Pondering Purim

  1. SMB says:

    Your Hammantaschen look wonderful!


  2. We are past the time of kids dressing up, but generally, there were Esters, Hamans and a few soldiers. Pretty non-political choices. 😉


  3. drjcwash says:

    Thanks for this post. II remember reading the story story of Ester. My grandmother made us read the Bible when we were bored. The Book of Ester was always one of my favorite chapters to read. It was an inspiring story of courage.


  4. So many of our holidays are about depriving yourself of foods you like but CAN’t eat. It’s really nice to have a holiday that is FUN to celebrate!


  5. tchistorygal says:

    I always loved the story of Esther. What a brave lady, and wise uncle. It looks like you had a great feast. 🙂


  6. Leah says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed your Purim celebration. Looks like a lot of fun and your hamentaschen look delicious! Such a fun holiday, isn’t it?


  7. A fun post! My son Eli made hammantaschen too.


  8. Pingback: Purim: Plays & Hamentaschen! | cyclingrandma

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