Monday, March 5, 2018

More Purims in Adar?

The holiday of Purim that we celebrated last week is a world-wide holiday commemorating the redemption of the Jews of the Persian Empire from the threat of decimation at the hands of wicked Haman more than 2500 years ago. It is also the prototype for local celebrations of redemption specific to certain towns, and, in some cases, personal families. Today’s Jewish Treat offers a brief overview of some of these local Purims that are also celebrated in the month of Adar.

For instance, today, the 18th of  Adar, has been noted as Purim Sana’a (Yemen). It is not clear when in history this day earned its title or for what period of time it was observed, but the story associated with it is of a miraculous salvation for the entire community. The events took place at a time when the King of Yemen had many close Jewish advisors of whom his other councillors were jealous. The councillors murdered the king’s son on Purim and placed his body in the synagogue, framing the Jewish community. The terrified Jews of Sana’a fasted and prayed for three days, and on the third day the truth came to light and they were saved. (According to legend, the body of the prince sat up and pointed to his killers.)

Another extra Purim in the month of Adar was celebrated in Cairo (Egypt). Its origin dates back to 1524, the year Hain Ahmed Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Cairo, rebelled against Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. In a bid to raise funds for his rebellion, the pasha imprisoned 12 prominent Jews and held them for ransom. He also ransacked the Jewish community. On the 21st of Adar, the date the ransom was due, the Pasha was stabbed while in his bath. He survived but fled, and the prisoners were released. The Jews of Cairo wrote a scroll recording these events and declared an annual festive commemoration.

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