Those who honor the traditions of Judaism celebrate Purim in February, a holiday that rekindles the tale of how the Jewish people overcame obliteration from the wrath of the Persian Empire in the 4th century BCE.
The history of Purim is one that challenges the imagination and stretches reality, according to Rabbi Ezzy Schusterman of Los Altos Chabad.
“(Purim) is a series of divinely orchestrated events,” he said, adding that the holiday is about realizing that although life may seem like a random series of events, there is meaning hidden beneath everything that happens.
The biblical Book of Esther details the story of salvation and fate. Esther, the young ward of the Jewish leader Mordechai, is unwillingly betrothed to King Ahasuerus of Persia, her ethnicity hidden even to him.
After the Persian prime minister, Haman, orders the execution of all Jews, Esther breaches the traditions of her age to appear before the king to reveal her true identity and expose Haman’s plan.
“She chose to defy the orders and to risk her own life for the purpose of her people … to ultimately save the Jewish people,” Schusterman said.
As a result of Esther’s intervention, the king hanged Haman for his plot and granted the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar.
Jews worldwide commemorate the date by observing the feast of Purim.
Schusterman noted that Purim is celebrated in modern times by reciting the Megillah, or Scrolls of Esther, gifting food to friends, donating to those in need and hosting a festive meal.
This year’s Purim holiday begins at sundown Feb. 23 and concludes at nightfall Feb. 24.
For more information, visit jewishlosaltos.com/holidays/purim/default.htm.