Jewish Holiday Purim Begins Tonight

Haman. Hitler. Ahmadinejad. What do these three men have in common? If you said that they each pledged to wipe out the Jews, then you were correct. However, God has promised that there will ALWAYS be a remnant of Jews who remain.

Haman’s plan was thwarted and the plan ended up turning against him. Hitler’s plan wiped out six million Jews, but then he took his own life. The fate of Ahmadinejad and his plan remains to be seen, but his words are loud and clear as he and his people chant: “Death to Israel…death to America!

Today we remember the story written in the Book of Esther as the Jews celebrate their Feast of Purim.

Purim is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the fall of Haman, who came close to executing a plot to exterminate the Jewish people. Instead, the people were saved because of the heroic planning of Mordechai and Esther.

Haman was from the nation of Amalek and had authority over all the princes and the king’s servants bowed down to him. However, Mordecai did not bow because he was a Jew. This was a transgression of the king’s command (Esther 3:3). This angered Haman and he plotted to destroy all the Jews in the entire kingdom (Esther 3:6) and the king endorsed his plan (Esther 3:8-11). Esther took a risk and approached the king and planned a banquet for him and Haman.

Before the banquet, Haman prepared a gallow to later hang Mordecai for not bowing to him.

That night, the king could not sleep and he asked that the “book of records" (Chronicles) be read to him. During the reading, he was reminded of some good deeds of Mordecai and realized he had not been rewarded for this.

The next day at the banquet which Esther prepared for the king, and in Haman’s presence, the king asks Esther to name anything she wants. She pleads with him to save her people from annihilation. The king asks her to expose this evil man and she names him as their enemy. (Esther 7:1-6).  

This angered the king and he ordered Haman be executed on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai. After that, the king elevated Mordecai to take Haman’s position of authority and the king reversed his decree and all the Jews were avenged (Esther 8:1-7).

The Fast of Esther is a Jewish fast from dawn until dusk on Purim eve, commemorating the three-day fast observed by the Jewish people in the story of Purim. This fast begins tonight, March 14, 2014 at sundown and ends tomorrow at sundown. Then begins Purim, a holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the destruction planned by Haman.

Purim is celebrated with a public reading of the Scroll of Esther, by giving mutual gifts of food and drink, by giving charity to the poor, and with a celebration meal which includes drinking wine. Costumes are often worn. When the name Haman is read in the text, the congregation often uses noisemakers to blot out the mention of his name or they cry out “boo!”  His name is mentioned 54 times in the Book of Esther. This day of deliverance has become a day of feasting and rejoicing.  

Hamantaschen (Haman's Ears) Cookies

Most Purim celebrations include a delicious cookie called "Hamantaschen." Here is the recipe:

Blend:

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 c Crisco butter-flavored shortening (or regular shortening with part butter)
2 tsp. baking powder

Add:
3 1/2 c flour

Work with hands and form into soft ball; flour board and roll out dough to 1/8" thick. Cut circles out with a floured 3 1/2 - 4" cookie cutter circle (or smaller).

Fill: with 12 oz can of Comstock pie filling or Solo brand, poppy, apricot, almond, cherry, peach.... Use 1 tsp per circle. Fold circles into triangles and securely pinch the edges together.

Bake: 350 degrees, 15-25 minutes until golden brown on bottom. Makes 22-30 pieces, depending on size of cookie cutter used.

Completely cool and then dust with powdered sugar, if desired