Thanks to our guest blogger, Chutzpah in the Kitchen, here’s a brief history of Purim, and a great recipe for making the traditional Purim dessert.
Over 2,000 years ago, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish people were exiled to live in ancient Persia. During the time that the Jews lived there, the King’s adviser, Haman, convinced King Ahasuerus that they should assassinate all of the Jews because they followed their own laws and customs, instead of the laws of ancient Persia. The king, who was something of a womanizer, was preoccupied with hosting parties, getting drunk and finding a new queen, so he told Haman to do as he pleased with the Jews. When the leader of the Jewish people, Mordechai, got wind of the plot to kill the Jews, he sent his beautiful niece, Esther, to meet King Ahasuerus, in the hopes that the king would find her attractive enough to make her queen. When Esther became queen, she explained the plight of the Jews to the king (the king didn’t realize that Esther was Jewish herself), who put the kibosh on Haman’s plan to kill the Jews. In short, everyone lived happily ever after.
The holiday of Purim commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from death, and is celebrated by giving baskets of food (usually treats) to family and friends (mishloach manot), giving charity to the poor, and public recitation of the Scroll of Esther. Other customs include drinking wine, dressing up in costumes, and general partying.
It’s also customary to eat triangular shaped cookies filled with fruit and other fillings. Enter the hamantashen! Named for the villian in the story of Purim (Haman), these pastries are shaped like a triangle, which is reminiscent of the hat that Haman wore.
The dough itself is actually quite simple- the tricky part with this treat is the folding and pinching, and ensuring that when baked, they don’t open up into a giant mess! The recipe that I use is from a really old cookbook, called The Spice and Spirit of Kosher-Jewish Cooking, out of my mom’s collection. I’m sure there are many variations on this recipe available online, but I’ve been using this one since I began baking as a teenager and it has always served me well.
Check out the step-by-step instructions (with more photos!) here.
In fact this year the Ministry of Tourism created a special 2013 Holy Land Calendar of Christian Feasts and Events. According to the Ministry of Tourism website, “the calendar, richly illustrated with images from the Holy Land, including its people, religious sites and festivities, lists all the special events and feasts according to the Anglican, Armenian, Catholic, Coptic, Ethiopian, Lutheran, Orthodox, Protestant and Syrian churches”.
For the full list of 65@65 facts click here
Israeli chief rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday praised Pope Benedict’s inter-religious outreach and said relations between Israel and the Vatican had never been better.
“During his period (as pope) there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue,” a spokesman quoted Metzger as saying after the pope announced he would resign. “I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
Metzger wished the pope “good health and long days”, the spokesman said.
Watch the video of Schottenstein’s blessing below:
The Jewish National Fund reported that a new record has been set this Tu Bishvat, as over 600,000 new trees were planted over the holiday weekend.
According to JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzle, this year’s Tu Bishvat (Israel’s Arbor Day) events, which span the entire week, will see over a million new saplings planted in forests and parks nationwide.
Over 260 cities, towns and communities participated in the JNF’s annual planting event Saturday, as hundreds of thousands of Israelis used the sunny day and came out in droves to celebrate the trees’ annual holiday.
According to Stenzle, 2013′s Tu Bishvat’s planting venture will set a new record.
“We want to thank the hundreds of thousands of people who came out today and took part in Tu Bishvat’s events in Israel,” he said.
Israel, he added, “Is the only country in the world to have more trees in the 21st century than in the previous one… We’re creating a green lung that will benefit all of us.”