Purim & Passover

Both Passover and Purim occurred outside the land, in Egypt and Persia. Both involved the near extermination of the people of Israel. Moses and Esther both appeared before kings to rescue their people. Pharaoh’s army and Haman both perished. In The Complete Book of Jewish Observance, Leo Trepp notes that Purim is a fulfillment of the saying from the Passover Haggadah: “Not just one Pharaoh rose against us to exterminate us, but in every generation did they rise up to exterminate us, and each time the Holy One Blessed Be He has rescued us from their hands.”

Let us tell the stories and make merry the occasions of this year 5777, remembering that this is the time for use to celebrate freedom, redemption and victory over wrong-doing.


Purim, or the Feast of Lots, is a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period (539-330 BCE). The story of Purim is recounted in the Book of Esther, and it is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (March 12).

A young Jewish woman, Esther, rises to be Queen of Persia under the tutelage of her guardian Mordecai. All, however, is not right. The Jews have enemies, and a certain Haman, the grand vizier, plots the Jews’ destruction. Even though Esther has hidden her Jewish identity from all, Mordecai prevails on her to risk her life by revealing her true identity to the king. She does this and denounces the evil Haman’s plot. At the end of the story, the Jews are able to turn the tables on their enemies, who are then punished in place of the intended victims. This story is one of the most beloved in the Jewish community, because of the hope that it gives a minority living in an oftentimes hostile majority culture.

The holiday is traditionally celebrated with wild abandon and with the giving of gifts to friends and the poor.

For Children: Watch this four minute video of the Purim story or get into the Purim spirit with these fun worksheets!
For Adults: Read an article on Political Insights for 21st Century Jews


Passover 2017 begins Monday evening, April 10, and ends Tuesday evening, April 18. The first Passover Seder is on the evening of Monday, April 10, and the second Passover Seder takes place on the evening of Tuesday, April 11.

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals of ancient Israel. Originally a combination of a couple of different spring festivals, it is a commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt–especially the night when God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague–and of the following day, when the Israelites had to leave Egypt hurriedly. Centered on the family or communal celebration of the Seder (ritual meal), Passover is one of the most beloved of all Jewish holidays.

For Children: Kids, you play the most important role! That’s right. Every year when we retell the story of our Freedom from Egypt, we begin with the children’s questions and the story is told as an answer! So, take the Freedom Challenge and win awesome prizes!
For Adults: Try these 10 tips to spice up your Seder and keep it exciting for all participants. Additionally, you might want to review tips  for including people with disabilities in your Purim and Passover celebrations.

Purim & Passover

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