Jews Celebrate Purim With Mixture Of Solemnity, Joy

Ancient Holiday Recalls Deliverance Under Persians

March 22, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

For the children celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim on Thursdayin Annapolis, the day meant a chance to eat special pastries and dress up in crowns and robes and gold jewelry.

For the adults, the day's significance was more serious -- but equally joyous.

About 60 people came to the Purim celebration at the Pleasure Cove Yacht Club, sponsored by the Lubavitch Educational Center. Thursdaywas Purim, a day that Jewish people remember their survival under Persian rule.

"Throughout the ages, people have tried to destroy theJewish people," said Leonard Bulman. "This is a reminder to us of the triumph of good over evil."

Good and evil on Purim are symbolized by the characters in the account of the biblical Book of Esther: Esther and her Uncle Mordechai, the heroine and hero; and Haman, the villain.

In the story, which is believed to date to about the fourthcentury B.C., the Persian King Xerxes decrees that the Jewish population will be massacred on a certain day.

Esther, the queen, is herself Jewish and risks her life to successfully intercede for her people. At the story's end, the Jews survive and the evil man who has plotted against them is executed.

During the days of danger, Esther asked the Jewish people to fast and pray, and so they did, the Bible relates. Since then, the celebration of Purim is always preceded by a day of fasting, explained Chani Kugel.

Thursday evening began witha reading of the Megillah, a Hebrew scroll of the Book of Esther.

Every time the children recognized the name Haman, they raised a row, shaking small twirling devices, stamping and banging on the table. Rabbi David Kugel, with a long beard and black hat, chanted and swayed through the story until the evil Haman was finally vanquished.

Rachael Brickman, 9, said the best part of the holiday was "making noise" at the mention of Haman's name.

Rachael's 7-year-old sister, Ariel, said she favored the party food.

"We get to eat a lot of sweets!" she explained, pointing to the Purim dinner waiting on the tables. For the adults there was Kosher champagne, and everyone enjoyed the Hamantaschen, triangular-shaped fruit pastries. The cookies, filled with prunes, apricots or raspberries, are shaped in a triangle because Haman wore a triangular-shaped hat, said Chani Kugel.

The festivities were attended by affiliated and unaffiliated Jewish people. The evening ended with singing and dancing to live music.

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