Purim is a joyous holiday that affirms and celebrates Jewish survival and continuity throughout history. Celebrations include costumes, skits and songs, noisemakers, and gifts of food (mishloach manot – מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת). The main communal celebration involves a public reading—usually in the synagogue—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 is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud.

Purim is an unusual holiday in many respects. First, Esther is the only biblical book in which God is not mentioned. Second, Purim, like Hanukkah, 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. Over the centuries, Haman has come to symbolize every anti-Semite in every land where Jews were oppressed. 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.

Learn more at ReformJudaism.org      Learn more at MyJewishLearning


Meet the Characters

Making (and sending) Mishloach Manot (gifts of food):

Hamantaschen, which can be savory or sweet and filled with just about anything, have become the most recognizable food associated with the holiday of Purim. But where do they come from? Sephardic Jews eat cookies that are fried or baked in the shape of Haman’s ear, which was purported to be twisted and triangular in shape. Ashkenazic Jews enjoy fruit or nut-filled triangular-shaped cookies or pastries, a shape said to represent Haman’s hat, Haman’s pocket, or, alternatively, the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Hamantaschen recipes: Reform Judaism, My Jewish Learning, Savory Hamantaschen

It’s OK Not to Drink on Purim – and the Rest of Us Should Be Respectful of That


Other craft ideas: Create a M’gillah, Purim Puppets, or a Haman Piñata, Make & Shake a Gragger, PJ Library’s Purim Hub, PJ Library Learning the Four Mitzvot of Purim, Jewish Grandparents Network


Jewish Teens Guide to Purim via Jewish Boston, Teens, Purim and #metoo via Moving Traditions


What is Purim? via 18Doors