March 23-24, 2024 | 14 Adar 5784

Get an early taste of Purim with Temple Emanu-El starting on March 9!

Purim is a joyous holiday that affirms and celebrates Jewish survival and continuity throughout history with celebrations that include costumes, skits and songs, noisemakers and gifts of food. The main communal celebration involves a public reading of the Book of Esther (M’gillat Esther), which tells the story of the holiday: Under the rule of King Ahashverosh, Haman, the king’s adviser, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of Persia from destruction. The reading of the m’gillah typically is a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud.

Purim, like Chanukah, is viewed as a minor festival according to Jewish custom, but has been elevated to a major holiday as a result of the Jewish historical experience. The significance of Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become: a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival.