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With love from,
Mawmaw and Pawpaw
June 22, 2001
Jessica Rosen, age 7, of Chicago, Illinois, was excited because she was going to a Purim festival. Rachel and Jim also looked forward to the holiday because during Purim you get to dress in colorful costumes and wear masks.
Jessica was thinking about what to wear when she remembered the biblical story of Esther, which explains why Jews celebrate Purim.
Long ago, a wicked advisor named Haman convinced the king that he should destroy the Jewish people. Queen Esther and her Uncle Mordecai were Jews who uncovered the plot against the king and saved the king's life. The king rewarded them by saving the lives of the Jewish people.
To honor Mordecai, the king ordered Haman to parade the royal horse through the streets while Mordecai rode proudly.
During Purim there are plays, gifts and games. There are always treats like hamantaschen, three-cornered cakes filled with fruit or poppy seeds. Rachel and Jim looked forward to eating these special Purim treats.
Since Jessica couldn't decide what to wear to the Purim celebration, she thought, “What about dressing like a hero from Hanukkah?”
In the Hanukkah story, a non-Jewish king named Antiochus would not let Jews worship God in their Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Mattathias, together with his son, Judah, organized a group of freedom fighters called the Maccabees. They fought and won a war against the king's powerful army.
“Maybe I could go to the party as Judah the Maccabee?” thought Jessica.
After the war, the Maccabees wanted to rekindle the light of the menorah in the Holy Temple. They found a small jar of oil, enough for just one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days and nights.
Jessica knew that Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting the menorah. One candle is lit on the first night, then two the second evening and so on until all eight candles are burning brightly.
During Hanukkah friends and families exchange gifts. There are delicious treats like potato pancakes, called latkes, and jelly donuts. We play games with a four-sided top called a dreidel and receive Hanukkah gelt.
“Hanukkah is a lot of fun, but I still can't decide what to wear to the Purim carnival,” thought Jessica.
“Maybe I could dress like Moses,” Jessica thought.
Rachel and Jim had told her the Passover story of how Moses freed the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. Moses led the people of Israel across the sea to the desert where they traveled for 40 years. Finally, they returned to the Holy Land.
On the night of Passover, families gather for the Seder. They read the Haggadah, a story that tells of the exodus from Egypt.
The people of Israel left Egypt in such a hurry that there was no time to wait until the bread dough could rise. That's why during Passover Jewish people eat unleavened bread, called matzo.
They also display special foods like a roasted bone, a roasted egg, horseradish, parsley and a tasty apple dip called charoses.
Jessica knew that during the Seder, the youngest child asks “the four questions” and everyone answers. They eat a delicious meal and drink four cups of wine. The leader of the Seder hides a piece of matzo, called afikoman. The child who finds the afikoman gets a reward.
Jessica thought again about which costumes to wear to the Purim celebration. All of a sudden, she had the answer and started to work on the best costume ever!
Can Rachel and Jim guess what she will be for Purim? Will you tell us, Jessica?