Saturday, December 08, 2007

Festival Notes 6: Purim

This last year was the first time I had even heard of Purim. I don't think I even really got it until I was there. It is a lighthearted festival really, but it is a serious story. Other then the local gathering to read Esther and dressing up, I am unsure of how to make this a part of our life. Here comes some research!

  • Translation: "lots," for Haman's superstitious casting of lots to pick the right day to destroy God's people
  • Biblical name: same, Purim
  • Reference: Esther 9:17
  • Jewish Date: 14 Adar (12th month, this is a leap month, so when that occurs, Purim is celebrated during the 2nd month of Adar, a month before Passover)
  • Gregorian Date (2008): March 21 (sunset 20th to sunset 21st) [from]
  • Sabbath? No, but tradition goes that in honor of the celebration, it shouldn't be an ordinary day
  • Festival Traditions:
    • Be joyful
    • No mourning or fasting (except the day before, to commemorate Esther's 3 day fast)
    • Read entire book of Esther as a congregation
    • Wear costumes
    • Games and prizes (this might just be at our congregation :0)
    • Ashkinazic Jewish traditional food: hamentaschen, little 3 cornered p0cket pastries depicting Haman's hat
I think this is a pretty straight forward festival. All you have to do is read the book of Esther to know what it is about. But I like that the Jewish people make a point to celebrate the times God has delivered them. They even have a day that they remember The Holocost. Actually, I read at that it is a tradition to have a Purim Katan, or little purim, on any day where a community was saved from "a catastrophe, destruction, evil or oppression." To remember the triumphs of God, and to remember that it is He, not we, that overcomes this world, that is something to hold onto.

A while ago in an adult sunday school class, we were discussing how to prepare kids for the evil they could experience should we come under severe persecution (the class was on Islam and their "love" for the Jewish people and the followers of HaShem). While there is no way to really prepare, especially when we have never been through anything remotely like persecution, I think each parent can make sure that stories of God's triumph and protection of His people, such as Esther, are stories their kids know. And know well. Even if we perish, we know He will redeem His people from the hand of the enemy. He has done it over and over, and made sure it was recorded. Hey, remember, He already won The Battle! In Yeshua, our soul finds rest. The rest will perish someday anyway.

I think it would be fun to create costumes each year (if not new ones, additions to the old), make the little pastries, and make the story come alive for kids. It could even be a good time to go through the history of the persecution of the Jews, biblical and afterwards. Maybe reading through the story in the week before would be good, as hearing it all in one day is a bit overwhelming for adults, let alone kids. That way when it came time to the community reading, they can anticipate the booing and cheering, and maybe reflect on the meaning of the story. God preserves His people, whether we can see Him in action or not.

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