Purim – A Jewish Celebration

Purim – A Jewish Celebration

Yesterday, many Jewish people around the world gathered in synagogues to hear the entire book of Esther being read.

Today, they have been celebrating with feasting, drinking and exchanging gifts of food, as they remember how they were delivered from complete destruction.

The book of Esther is one of just two books in the Bible named after a women. It initially caught my attention for this reason. I hoped to glean something of what it means to be a godly woman.  

So far I have not been disappointed – there is so much to be learnt from it.

I intend to begin a short series of blog posts on Esther and hope that these posts bless you and encourage you to read, or re-read, Esther for yourself.

In this first blog of the series I will simply summarise the story for those who are less familiar with it. The book itself has 10 short chapters and can be read in one sitting. 

The story of Esther begins with King Xerxes, who reigned in Persia in 486-465 BC. He is holding a long period of feasting: 187 days! The King and Queen hold separate feasts for the men and women, as was custom at that time.

On the last day of the feasts, Xerxes commands his Queen, Vashti, to come and parade her beauty before the drunken men. Strong minded Vashti refuses to come and, for disobeying, has her crown taken away.

To find a new Queen, a beauty contest is held. The Jewish orphan, Esther, grows in favour and is eventually chosen by Xerxes to be Queen.

Esther’s cousin and guardian, Mordecai, works at the King’s gates. After the marriage, he uncovers a plot to assassinate the King and thus saves King Xerxes life.

Meanwhile the proud and wicked Haman has been rising in the ranks until finally he is given a position above all the officials. By the King’s command, everyone had to bow to Haman.

But Mordecai refuses. Mad with anger, Haman devises an horrific plan to destroy the entire Jewish population. He persuades the King, with a large sum of money, to agree.

Mordecai encourages Esther to plead with the King for the Jewish people – at great risk to her own life! She prepares two feasts for the King and Haman. Then, at the end of the second, asks the King that her people be spared. Up until this point her Jewish identity had been a secret.

The King, entranced by Esther’s beauty and hospitality, is enraged by Haman’s scheming. Haman is hung from gallows that he personally had built for Mordecai. The King allows the Jewish people to defend themselves from attack and, in a complete reversal of events, many enemies of the Jews are destroyed.

The book ends with the inauguration of Purim- meaning “lots”. Named after the lots that were drawn to decide on what day the terrible plan would happen.  Today is the anniversary of that day – Happy Purim!

Stay tuned.

Recipe

My husband lived in Romania for a few months when he was a student. During his time there he was taught this delicious soup. It is our ‘go to’ whenever we’re fighting colds in the winter months.

5 from 1 vote
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Romanian Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 750 g pack of chicken thighs skins removed
  • 3 l water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tspn oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot finely sliced
  • 1/4 swede cubed
  • 1 small potato cubed
  • 1 red pepper finely sliced
  • 1 cup sweetcorn frozen is fine
  • 1 handful of rice unwashed, the starch thickens the soup
  • 150 ml sour cream

Instructions

  1. Place chicken, water, stock, salt, pepper and herbs in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 45 mins.

  2. Add onion, carrots, swede and potato. Simmer for 15 mins.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sour cream and simmer for 30 mins.

  4. Take off the boil and remove bones from the soup.
  5. Stir through sour cream.
  6. Serve with crusty bread and fresh or pickled chillies.

Recipe Notes

You can add just about any vegetable to this soup, the more the merrier. Broccoli, celery and mushrooms all work well, raid your fridge and mix and match!

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3 Replies to “Purim – A Jewish Celebration”

  1. 5 stars
    He taught me how to make this Soup too only I don’t put sour cream in. It is so soothing if you are feeling poorly! Jo (Sister-in-law)

    1. The sour cream really makes a difference. Crème fraiche works too. Just be sure to take it off the boil before adding it. Otherwise the proteins can seize up and leave the soup with a slightly grainy texture. Not a pretty sight… Although still tasty!

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