(POO-reem, translation: lots (i.e., lottery)

This holiday celebrates the story of Esther which recounts Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai's victory over the tyrant Haman. In the year 356 BCE (before common era) Haman, the prime minister to the Persian King Achashverosh, issued a decree to kill all the Jews throughout the provinces. The name Purim means "lots," (i.e. lottery) for Haman used a 'lot' (pur) to decide the effective date for this decree. Queen Esther, who was married to the King, revealed her own Jewish lineage and risked her life in order to save the Jewish people. She also engineered Haman's downfall; his plot was foiled.

McGillis Celebration

At McGillis we tell the story of Esther and sing Purim songs during Shabbat. The faculty will often do a silly skit that tells the story of Purim.

Traditional Celebration

A public reading of the Book of Esther is conducted in the synagogue amid much revelry. Almost all children, and some adults, come to the service with noisemakers that they sound whenever the name of "Haman" is read. At synagogue, children and adults alike dress in costumes and masks. A party filled with food and frivolity usually follows the synagogue service. Purim is a time for fun – for eating, drinking, carnivals, and plays. In addition to celebration, it is traditional to give gifts of money to the poor and send baskets of food to friends and family. The hamantashen, which literally translates as "Haman's Hat," a three-cornered pastry filled with poppy seed or other sweet filling is made especially at this time of year.