Purim holy day rooted in the Old Testament

by W. Winston Skinner


This illustration from “Juedisches Ceremoniel,” a German book published in Nu¨rnberg in 1724, shows the festive atmosphere during the celebration of Purim. 

Purim is one of the most festive of Jewish holy days — and one that has its roots in one of the shortest books in the Bible.

The Book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish girl, Esther, who is elevated to the position of queen in the Persian court during the years of exile. In the course of the book, Esther — who has kept her Jewish identity secret — faces as grave challenge.

Resolutely she chooses to act boldly to save her people, even at the cost of her life.

The Book of Esther takes place entirely outside of Israel, and it is the only biblical book in which the name of God is not mentioned. It is also the only Old Testament book for which at least a fragment was not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Masquerades, special foods and festivals are often part of the celebration of Purim. The word “purim” comes from a Hebrew word for lots which were cast in ancient times. Lots were cast as part of the progression of events in Esther.

Congregation Bnai Israel in Fayetteville will have two events related to Purim. An adult Purim play is set for March 15 at 7 p.m., and the CBI Purim Festival will is set for March 16 at 12:30 p.m.

Congregation B'nai Israel is a Reform Synagogue, affiliated with the Union of Reform Judaism. The congregation serves the Jewish population south of Atlanta.

Members live in Fayetteville and Peachtree City, as well as other cities in the adjacent counties of Coweta, Clayton, Fulton, Douglas, Henry and Spalding.

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