To commemorate the Jewish Festival of Purim, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation held a festive celebration on March 12. Purim is one of the most fun-filled festivals in the Jewish calendar, with 24 hours of dressing up in fancy costumes, drinking wine and eating pastries.
Parker’s Therapeutic Recreation Department coordinated the gala event, with 180 attendees and family members enjoying hours of food, costumes, noisemakers and a photo-bot. According to Kathleen Keegan, director of therapeutic recreation, Purim celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from the evil Haman, who wanted to kill all the Jews.
“This was long ago in ancient Persia, and the story is recounted in the Bible’s Book of Esther,” said Keegan. “Purim festivals are basically about letting go of one’s inhibitions and celebrating with like-minded folks.”
And the Jews certainly had lots of reasons to celebrate. Haman was the trusted prime minister for King Ahasuerus. When the King got rid of his wife in favor of a new one, Esther, Haman expected her cousin Mordecai to bow down to him. He refused to do this, so Haman took the rather over-the-top action of plotting to kill all the Jews.
Unfortunately for Haman, he didn’t know that Esther was also Jewish (she was Mordecai’s cousin and adopted daughter) and she put a stop to his plot with the King’s help. Things didn’t end well for Haman, he was hanged on the very same gallows that he had designed with Mordecai in mind. The name Purim comes from the Persian word for ‘lot.’ Haman drew lots to see who he would kill first out of the Jewish elders in Persia. Fortunately, Haman’s evil plans were thwarted and the Jews celebrated. Hey, they have an old saying…“They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!”
Unlike other, more sedate, Jewish holidays, Purim is an excuse for a bit of ‘any which way but loose,’ with food, wine, parties, fancy costumes and noise-makers the order of the day. This is a Jewish festival, so there is always cake. In this instance, it’s a pastry-based, triangular treat that is known as Hamentaschen, named after the triangular hat that Haman
is said to have worn.