Purim, the Jewish Feast of Esther, falls on February 28 this year. Although the topic is serious (the near annihilation of the Jewish people), the story has a happy ending, so the celebrations are joyful and light-hearted.
In the synagogue the cantor reads aloud the Book of Esther. At each mention of Haman, the villain of the Purim story, everyone stamps their feet, boos, hisses or cranks a raspy noisemaker called a gragger. There are masquerade parties and costume parades for the children, and many Jewish people send food gifts to friends, relatives and those who are in need in the community.
A favorite party food for this holiday is the hamentasch, a triangular pastry filled with a prune or poppy-seed mixture. Supposedly this confection represents Haman’s three-cornered hat.
At Purim we Jews remember that there have been many Hamans” in our history, but not one of them has succeeded in destroying us as a people. Against great odds, God has preserved us to this day. Although the name of God is not specifically mentioned in the Book of Esther, his power and purposes are apparent.
Why not wish your Jewish friends a happy Purim? You might surprise them that a Gentile knows about Jewish holidays. You also might be able to include a brief statement about your faith in the Jewish God who preserves and keeps Israel, and what you know about the Jewish Messiah.