View Full Version : What is Purim exactly? Need people that know the Jewish faith.

09-11-2008, 02:24 PM

I have some questions re: Purim. I looked into wikipedia and the Jewish encyclopedia and get the gist of it, but there are some things that I don't understand.

Do most Jews celebrate it like they do Rosh Hashana (sp?)? Or is it a holiday more for the Orthodox mainly? Would a non-practicing Jew celebrate Purim?

Also, who was Amalek? A tribe? A king? It seems like the early Jews had wars with it and destroyed it, up to its last livestock (according to the Old testament).

Thanks in adv.


09-11-2008, 04:48 PM
Purim was a major celebration among the Sephardic Jews of 17th century Netherlands who had fled Spain and Portugal. They referred to the heroine as St. Esther and celebrated the defeat of Haman with dancing and costumes and feasting.

When I was a pre-adolescent during WWII, we used to celebrate Purim at our reform temple during Sunday school and sing about the demise of Haman (whom we compared with Hitler) to the melody of Three Jolly Coachmen. As best as I can remember, it went like this:

Oh, once there was a wicked, wicked man,
And Haman was his name, sir.
He would have murdered all the Jews
Thought they were not to blame, sir.

Oh, today we'll merry, merry be
Oh, today we'll merry, merry be,
Oh, today, we'll merry, merry beeeee,
And nosh some hamentashen.

09-11-2008, 04:48 PM
The movie, One Night with the King, is about the Biblical story of Queen Esther - essentially the story behind Purim. I thought it was very well done. Thought you might be interested in watching it. Or just go to the Bible itself and read the story. It won't tell you how Jews celebrate Purim, just the why. :)

09-11-2008, 05:21 PM
There is an excellent explanation of Purim here: http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htm
The site explains the story of Purim and some, but not all, of the traditions associated with the festival. Purim means 'lots' and the festival is called Purim because Haman (booo hiss) drew lots to decide on which day the Jewish population should be exterminated.

Purim Spiels are great fun! They take various forms but some include specially written plays for the festival. A long time ago I wrote a Purim Spiel using lines from various of Shakespeares' plays!

09-11-2008, 06:25 PM
A non-practicing Jew might at the very least buy or make hamentaschen (http://www.google.com/search?q=hamantaschen&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a).

09-11-2008, 09:09 PM
Thank you very much for all the info.

Very appreciated and insightful.