Purim In Medford: A Villain, Dress-Up, And Tasty Hamantaschen
MEDFORD, Mass. — For the record, let’s stipulate that Haman was a bad dude.
At Temple Shalom in Medford, they celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim yesterday by throwing rubber spiders into the mouth of an unflattering portrait of Haman. And they hurled balls at an inflated doll labeled Haman.
And the costumed kids bashed a piñata of Haman until it burst open and spilled candy everywhere (which all the kids were pretty happy about). And they shared hamantaschen, tricorner pastries with fruity fillings that resemble Haman’s hat or ears (depending on who’s telling the story).
Purim, Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Braham David says, comes from the “story of the near destruction of the Jewish people in ancient Persia. The heroine of the story is Esther, who becomes one of the king’s queens and intervenes to save the Jewish people.”
As recounted in the Biblical Book of Esther, one of the advisors to the Persian king, a fellow by the name of Haman, became enraged with a Jew named Mordecai who refused to bow to him because he would only show such deference to God. Haman ordered all the Jews in the kingdom killed, determining the day for the massacre by casting lots (Purim means “lots”). Mordecai’s relative Esther, who had kept her Jewishness secret, revealed her faith to the king and convinced him to change his mind. Haman was hanged, and the Jews were allowed to slay any who would try to harm them.
Purim epitomizes one of the great Jewish themes: They tried to kill us; they failed; now let’s eat. Rabbi David says Temple Shalom celebrates by reading the story and wearing costumes (kings and queens—but also superheroes, strawberries and tigers) and giving gifts to the poor and giving food to each other.