Jews mark feast of Purim tomorrow

February 23, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Many Jews will don costumes as they celebrate the joyous feast of Purim tomorrow.

"This is a truly unique holiday with no set decorum," said Rabbi Seymour Essrog, spiritual leader of Beth Shalom congregation in Taylorsville. "It is the Jewish response to Halloween or Mardi Gras."

Beth Shalom congregation will observe Purim, also known as the Feast of Lots, at 8 p.m. tomorrow at 2020 Liberty Road. All are invited to participate.

The holiday commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from a massacre planned thousands of years ago by Haman, an adviser to the Persian king. The story, detailed in the Book of Esther, tells how Haman wanted to eliminate the Jews "for no reason other than they were different," said Rabbi Essrog.

"The story touches on the roots of anti-Semitism," he said.

Purim takes its name from the lots Haman cast to decide the date of the massacre. When Queen Esther discovered the plot, she exposed it to the king and Haman was executed instead of the Jews.

"This is a feast when Jews really let their hair down," said Rabbi Essrog. "They make a lot of noise in the synagogue when Haman's name is read."

As part of the festivities, worshipers, especially the children, masquerade as favorite biblical characters.

"Many dress as the king and queen, but they can wear what they want," said the rabbi. After the service, the congregation serves haman taschen, three-cornered cakes symbolic of the hat worn by the villain of the story.

Information: 549-6574.

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