Jewish Holidays and Festivals

Please see for a schedule of what day a holiday occurs in this calendar year.


Purim (Feast of Esther) is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month Adar, or exactly four weeks before Passover. It is held in honor of Esther, a beautiful Jewish queen. Esther was encouraged by her cousin Mordecai to go to her husband the king when his wicked adviser, Haman, had persuaded him to kill all of her people. After fasting and praying, Esther did go before her husband and pled for all of the Jews to be saved. Her desire was granted (See story in Friend, July 1972, p. 32).

On Taanit Esther, the day before Purim, many people fast in remembrance of the fasting of Queen Esther.
The story of Purim is told in the book of Esther. Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. The 13th of Adar is the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews, and the day that the Jews battled their enemies for their lives. On the day afterwards, the 14th, they celebrated their survival.

In cities that were walled in the time of Joshua, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month.

The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of God. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to God. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning God.

Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that God often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.

A little verse boys and girls in Israel learn and recite at this time is:

Mordecai, the Just,
On his horse is riding,
And the wicked Haman
From the tree is hanging.
On Purim Day we send
Nice gifts to each other,
And all the happy children
Dress up in fancy costumes.

A sweet bread called hamanstaschen is usually served in all the homes at the time of Purim.
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