On this Spanish island, Purim used to be the biggest holiday for persecuted Jews

Members of the Jewish community of Mallorca, Spain, attend a Tu b'Shvat picnic, Feb. 10, 2019. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain (JTA) — On this island south of Barcelona, Jews celebrate Purim these days pretty much as they do most anywhere else in Europe. There’s the reading of the Book of Esther at the small synagogue near the marina, followed by a costume party bringing together… Read more »

These Jewish women say celebrating Purim in the #MeToo era is different

Female rabbis said the themes related to gender in the Purim narrative take on an added significance in the wake of the #MeToo movement. (Lior Zaltzman)

NEW YORK (JTA) — When Meredith Jacobs was taught the Purim story as a little girl in the 1970s and ’80s, Esther was made out to be its heroine, while Queen Vashti was its “evil queen.” According to the Book of Esther, Vashti was banished by her husband, the… Read more »

How Israeli women turned this Purim into a feminist holiday

Shir Yorkevitz, right, and two other teachers dressed as Rosie the Riveter flexing at a middle school in Herzliya, Israel, March 8, 2017. (Courtesy of Yorkevitz)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – Wonder Woman, Rosie the Riveter and a female Israeli fighter pilot walked into a bar. They were just a few of the heroines out in Tel Aviv Saturday for the night of Purim. With International Women’s Day falling a day before the holiday weekend this… Read more »

Tucson congregations help others share the joys of Purim

Adina Lytle and Elliya Griver at Congregation Anshei Israel's Hamentaschen for Hunger event on Feb.26. (Yvonne Ethier)

The joy of Purim commemorates the survival of the Jewish people from a plot to annihilate them in ancient Persia, as recorded in the Megillah, the Book of Esther. But the joy goes beyond the events of ancient times. Jews have survived over and over again, in a world… Read more »

Local synagogues set for Purim frolics

Purim is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar, commemorating Queen Esther’s triumph, with the help of the wise Mordechai, in saving the Jews of ancient Persia from the wicked plot of Haman, evil adviser to the king. The holiday begins on March 23 this year… Read more »

Should we get hammered on Purim — and Election Day?

Groggers and beer, two important elements of a Purim celebration (Edmon J. Rodman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Purim parties are just around the corner — as is the presidential election. This got me thinking: What does the holiday’s operative phrase, “ad lo yada,” “until one no longer knows,” really mean? Traditionally, this rabbinic license to party, derived from the Talmud, has been taken… Read more »

Purim poser: What is our fascination with villains?

Two Faces of Haman: Why do we like trying them on? (Masks and photo by Edmon J. Rodman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Who is the Haman in your life? The person, who like the bad guy in the Megillah Esther that we read on Purim, schemes to bring you down. When we get to the place in the Megillah where Haman is forced to lead Mordechai though… Read more »

On Purim, answering to a higher grogger

Besides blotting out the name of Haman, would these groggers also wake one to the needs of the hungry? (Edmon J. Rodman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — On Purim, can we really blot out the memory of an evil like Haman, who threatened our very existence, with a noisemaker? When in a popular Purim song we sing “Hava narishah-rash, rash, rash,” “Wind your noisemakers,” all that “rashing” does momentarily make the darkness… Read more »

Keeping up the tradition

Sarah (Sue) Raizes, a resident of The Fountains who will turn 100 in May, rolls dough for hamantaschen at the Saddlebrooke home of her daughter, Sharon Triester. Raizes, whose mother was also a prolific baker, favors traditional fillings such as lekvar (prune) but also “branched out to cherry,” says Triester.

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PURIM FEATURE: From N.Y. to S.F., foodies across the country are altering the native hamantaschen

Foodies across America are coming up with variations on hamantaschen, Purim's traditional triangle-shaped cookie. (Beryl Shereshewsky)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Just because they’re the same shape doesn’t mean they have the same soul. Hamantaschen, the Purim season’s traditional triangle-shaped cookie, are conventionally filled with jam, but the pastry has come a long way since its namesake ruled in ancient Persia. From New Orleans, where hamantaschen… Read more »

In Hollywood, looking to Persian Jews for Purim costume inspiration

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — With Purim this year falling on the same weekend as the Academy Awards ceremony, I found myself wondering how best to get my once-a-year portrayal of a Purim character up to award-winning quality. My standard getup — fake beard, “Persian-style” bathrobe and slippers — is looking… Read more »

A Purim directive: Laugh it up!

NEW YORK (JTA) — Little kids will laugh at anything. The simplest knock-knock joke or a tickle fest — even the threat of one — can so easily end in hysterics. They laugh because they are surprised by something unexpected in a world they are constantly discovering. If only… Read more »

Snagging bargains for shalach manot

Discount Purim basket with a rich theme: Products purchased at a 99 Cents Only Store connect to characters in the Purim story. (Edmon J. Rodman)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Falling between the giving season of Chanukah and the getting season of tax refunds, Purim time finds households like mine searching for ways to keep holiday expenses down to earth without losing the mirth. What with the cost of fancy, professionally made kosher shalach manot… Read more »

Gift basket themes: tea time or movie time

NEW YORK (JTA) — So it’s nearly Purim and the excitement in my house is rising every day. I’m not a great one to fuss with costumes, but my mind is bubbling over with ideas for mishloach manot, the Purim gift baskets. It’s more than mere “tradition” to give… Read more »

Purim feature: Badkhn Belt? Jewish humor was born in 1661, prof says

A 1905 postcard ashows a badkhn insulting a bride at her wedding ceremony. (Mel Gordon Archives)

BERKELEY, Calif. (JTA) — The Chmielnicki massacres weren’t particularly funny. From 1648 to 1651, nearly 100,000 Jews were slaughtered throughout Ukraine by Bohdan Chmielnicki and his roving bands of Cossacks. It was arguably the worst pogrom in history, leaving hundreds of Jewish communities in ruins. Yet according to Mel… Read more »