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Beth Shalom to celebrate Purim

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

A carnival, Megillah reading, and potluck dinner will be held Sunday at Congregation Beth Shalom in DeKalb to mark the holiday of Purim. Rabbi Maralee Gordon will preside.

Purim marks a time long ago when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. The story of Purim, which is told in the Bible in the book of Esther, involves a beautiful young Jewish woman named Esther and her cousin Mordecai. Esther becomes the queen of the king of Persia, Ahasuerus, who does not know that she is Jewish. The villain is Haman, an adviser to the king, who hatches a plot to destroy the Jewish people. Mordecai and Esther are able to foil the plot, saving the Jews. Meanwhile, Haman is hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.

On Purim, Jews are commanded to hear the reading of the book of Esther, which is usually referred to as the Megillah (a word that means “scroll”). Whenever people hear the name of Haman during the reading, they boo, hiss, stamp their feet, and rattle noisemakers called groggers. People also are commanded to eat, drink and be merry. Another custom is to eat hamentaschen, which are triangular fruit-filled cookies that are supposed to represent Haman’s three-cornered hat.

Events at Congregation Beth Shalom, 820 Russell Road, begin with a children’s carnival at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Then, the Megillah will be read, primarily in English, at 4:30 p.m. Children of all ages are invited to attend. The Megillah reading will be followed by a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. Those attending are asked to bring a main dish, side dish, salad or dessert to share; drinks and table service will be provided, and hamentaschen will be served. This is a dairy meal. No meat or meat products or shellfish should be used in preparing dishes.

For more information, contact jgorman7@juno.com.

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