Sunday, March 12, 2006

Purim -- Get ready, already

For some reason I am running into more Purim hype this year than in years past. Back in college days I was an honorary Jew, having discovered complimentary lox, bagels and danish at Hillel meetings. After falling out with the Southern Baptists over their resistance to the civil rights movement, I was lost in a spiritual desert where I wandered for a few years. My Jewish friends were among those able to respect my taking part in what was at the time fairly unacceptable social behavior, picketing a segregated restaurant.

Anyway, here are a couple of Purim links that even a goy can enjoy.

From the ABC's of Purim... in 10 words or less: They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat.

Purim is Judaism's most dramatic, fun-filled holiday. When else can you dress up like a bunny rabbit and eat doughy triangles filled with prunes and poppy seeds?
Purim occurs on the 14th of Adar. (In certain walled cities like Jerusalem, "Shushan Purim" is celebrated on the 15th of Adar.)

The main event is reading the Book of Esther. Set in Persia 2,300 years ago, the "Megillah" (as it is commonly called) recounts how a seemingly unrelated series of events spun together to save the Jewish people from annihilation. The quickie version is as follows:

When King Achashverosh throws a huge six-month party and the queen refuses to follow orders, she is replaced by a new queen - Esther the Jewess. Esther's uncle Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, uncovers a plot to assassinate the king -- putting him also in a favorable position with the king. All this comes in handy when Haman, the king's top advisor, obtains a decree to have all the Jews destroyed.

In the end, through a complex twist of events, Esther gets the decree reversed, Haman is hanged on the gallows, and Mordechai becomes prime minister.

The name Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther) actually mean "revealing the hidden." Unlike every other book in the Bible, Megillat Esther never mentions God's name even once. The hidden hand of God is revealed through the maze of events. There are no coincidences.

Megillat Esther teaches us that life challenges work out for the best, because what appears as obstacles are really opportunities to develop ourselves for the better. And it all comes from God's invisible hand that guides our fate, every step of the way.

Not to miss one minute video: What if These Famous People Had Jewish Mothers?

And from An Unsealed Room, Israeli blog... Jewish Girls Gone Wild!

Okay, then. Not exactly related, but whadda I know from Purim? I also came across another piece describing how Mary Beth Crain's eighty-five-year-old Mama, profoundly Jewish all her life, took Holy Communion in the retirement home where she lives! Maybe my day job in a retirement community made it funny to me. But again, there is something liberating about Jewish humor in every situation...

Now Hazel had always expected that sooner or later she would go to the Jewish Home, where her parents and aunts and uncles all lived out their last years among old friends and enemies. Every Jew in Rochester knows every other Jew, after all, and their relatives too, from Moses on down, and sooner or later they all tend to wind up in the same place, playing Bingo and Jewish Geography to the end.

But this was not to be Hazel’s fate. Since neither my brother nor I live in Rochester, we’ll be moving her to Michigan in April, where we’ll both be able to take care of her. For now, however, she’s quite happy at The Brightonian, even though it’s a distinctly non-Jewish residence that offers, among other Goyische amenities, Sunday church worship.

That's the set-up. Now go read and enjoy An Accident of Mirth.

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