Many Jews remember that as children they dressed up as characters found in the story of the holiday of Purim, which celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia.
Chabad Jewish Center of South Pasadena will re-kindle those memories — and in some cases start new memories — as it sponsors a Purim celebration on March 7 at the South Pasadena Community Room, at 1115 El Centro St., beginning at 4 p.m.
The actual holiday begins the evening of March 6 and ends the evening of March 7.
Rabbi Dovid Harlig said that the story — read in what is called a “megillah” — occurred about 356 B.C.E., or before the common era.
The story is about how one of the king’s wives, a Jew named Esther, convinced the king to turn away from his chief minister’s advice to kill all the Jews and destroy the community.
“This story is all about woman power,” Harlig said. “The whole holiday wouldn’t have been pulled off without the strength and resilience of women.”
Harlig, rabbi of Chabad of South Pasadena, noted a difference between the story of the Exodus, where God opened the Red Sea and allowed the Jews to cross, thus intimidating the Pharoah’s armies.
In the Purim story, God remains hidden, “but in the end he comes out for us,” Harlig said. “One of the themes of the holiday is Jewish unity. Haman tried to kill us and we were all in danger together. Therefore, in these times, we celebrate together too.”
There are several traditions tied to the holiday. One is the reading of the story of Purim, and every time the name of the chief minister, Haman, is read, people in the congregation drown out his name with noisemakers. An animated reading will be part of the program.
Harlig is offering the community a chance to contact him if a group wants to schedule a reading of the Purim story.
Hamantaschen are a tasty tradition, featuring fruit jams and jellies placed in a three-cornered shaped pastry shell.
Giving to the needy is a central part of the Jewish faith, and especially during Purim.
“On Purim, we give a donation to whoever asks. We don’t verify his or her bank balance,” Harlig said.
The Chabad celebration will also feature activities for children, and a sit-down deli dinner. The cost is $18 per adult and $12 per child and people should RSVP at JewishSouthPasadena.com/purim.
More information on the holiday can be found at chabadjewishcenterofsouthpasadena.com/holidays/purim.