Tag Archives: celebration

The Festival of Purim

EstherPurim has been described as a Jewish mash-up of Halloween and Mardi Gras. The story of Purim is well-known to readers of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells how Esther, the Jewish wife of a Persian king, saved the Jewish people from the plot of an evil advisor to the king, named Haman. 

Haman had a grudge against Mordecai, who happened to be Esther’s cousin. Haman convinced the king to send out a decree that called on the rest of the kingdom to kill all the Jewish people. This decree would have included Esther but the king did not know she was Jewish.

Esther – knowing that the fickle king could easily have her killed – asked the Jewish people to fast for three days and then she went to the king and informed him that she was Jewish and that Mordecai was her cousin.

The king promised to give her anything she wanted. Haman was hanged for his evil plan and Mordecai became the king’s advisor in his place. Although it was too late to rescind the order to have the Jewish people killed, Mordecai amended the order so that the Jewish people could defend themselves. The following day the Jewish people celebrated and it is this celebration that is known today as Purim.

Jewish people typically observe Purim by publicly reading the story from the Book of Esther, giving to the poor, and sharing food. Some people produce plays, dress up in costumes, hold beauty contests, and have parades.

One popular food on Purim is a cookie called hamantaschen. It is translated to mean “Haman’s pockets” or “Haman’s ears,” and their triangle shape is said to mimic Haman’s triangle hat. Check back tomorrow for a post on this awesome – and fun – cookie.

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Hanukkah Books

One great way to celebrate this eight-day holiday with your family is by sharing a book a day (or night). Here are eight suggestions for Hanukkah books you can give as gifts or incorporate into your usual story time.

Light the Candles: A Hanukkah Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub; illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes by Linda Glaser; illustrated by Nancy Cote
All About Hanukkah by Madeline Wikler, illustrated by Judyth Groner
Moishe’s Miracle: A Hanukkah Story by Laura Krauss Melmed; illustrated by David Slonim
Eight Winter Nights: A Family Hanukkah Book by Laura Krauss Melmed; illustrated by Elisabeth Schlossberg
Biscuit’s Hanukkah by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Pat Schories, and Mary O’Keefe Young
Hanukkah Moon by Deborah Da Costa; illustrated by Gosia Mosz
The Miracle Jar: A Hanukkah Story by Audrey Penn; illustrated by Lea Lyon

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Hanukkah Begins!

Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah, which means “dedication” or “consecration” in Hebrew and commemorates the miracle of the container of oil, when the lights in the temple lamp burned for eight nights even though there was barely enough oil to last one night.

Jewish families light a candle for each night of Hanukkah on a special candelabra called a menorah.  Many families also eat foods fried in oil, such as potato latkes (which are fantastic) and jam-filled doughnuts (who can argue with that).

Happy Hanukkah! Chag Urim Sameach!

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