JACKSON – While Yom Kippur is a time for fasting along with solemn prayer, reflection and atonement, the spring holiday of Purim is a time for all-out fun and festivity, making it one of the most joyful holidays on the Jewish calendar for celebrants of all ages.
Over 60 people attended the Jackson Chabad’s recently held Purim party at the all-new Adventure Crossing located at 515 Monmouth Road in the township.
Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek of Chabad of Jackson said, “participants took part in a golf tournament, virtual reality, axe throwing and many other activities.”
A festive Purim meal was also a highlight of the event along with a Megillah reading. There were four Mitzvot of Purim items noted during the event held earlier this month. Listening to the Megillah being read on Purim eve and again during the day, sending gifts of food (two food items to at least one Jewish person, giving money to the poor through charity to at least two Jewish people or organizations in need, and enjoying a festive meal with family and friends.)
“The festive dinner menu of kosher Chinese food and Rita’s Ices was enjoyed by all. The Megillah was read with the traditional gragger drowning out the name of Haman,” Rabbi Naparstek said. The Megillah is the tenth Tractate of Mishnah in the Order Moed that deals with the laws of Purim and its understandings to the Book of Esther.
He explained that “Purim celebrates the miracle of Jewish survival in the ancient Persian Empire. The wicked Haman convinced King Ahasuerus to allow him to annihilate all the Jews of his kingdom in one day.”
“Unbeknownst to the king, his own queen Esther was a hidden Jew. When Esther pleaded for the life of her people, the tables turned and Haman was executed,” Rabbi Naparstek added.
The rabbi added, “the holiday is celebrated every year with reading the Megillah, a festive meal, gifts of food and charity to the poor. It is also customary to dress up in costume as a reminder that G-D works in mysterious ways.”
The Purim holiday can often feel like one big party or festival with a crowded calendar of carnivals, singing, dancing and events packed with food and drink. That is even before the Purim costumes come out which range from traditional to all-out whimsical, on display in parades and pageants at schools and other organizations.
It is traditional to distribute gifts of food and drink to loved ones. Part of the story of Purim, as Rabbi Naparstek noted was that Queen Esther, the wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus, was Jewish, although she concealed her Judaism.
Esther’s cousin and sometimes referenced as uncle, Mordecai learned of a plot to kill the king and loyally reported it but he did not bow to Haman, the king’s most powerful advisor who wanted to destroy all the Jewish people in the Persian Empire.
Mordechai appealed to Esther to save her people and she came up with a courageous strategy to foil Haman’s plan. She invited the king and Haman to two banquets, the second of which revealed two shocking facts: that Haman wanted to kill the Jewish people and that she herself was Jewish.
Through these revelations, the queen was able to prevent Haman’s plot from taking form and through her bravery she saved the Jewish people.
The king punished Haman with death and appointed Mordechai, who had raised Esther after the death of her parents, as his new advisor.
It is said that Esther and Mordechai teach people about two different kinds of courage. Mordechai sets an example of fighting for ourselves while Esther teaches people to stand up and not be a bystander to evil and injustice.