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Curator Statement

Museum exhibitions traditionally have important objects of value on

display. This Purim display turns that notion on its head because many of the items on exhibit are frivolous and fun, and were intended for short-term use not long-term preservation. For instance, the ‘greggers’ made of tin and plastic are cheaply produced and commercially available, nevertheless they serve the purpose of noise-making. They don’t have inherent value, but some are in themselves visually interesting as they are painted with scenes from the story of Purim.

The photographs on display were mostly taken by Terry Aizen, at past

Purim celebrations in which the children and staff of Massada College and Kindy assumed other personas by dressing-up. The objects on display, costumes, masks and other Purim memorabilia, have been made by and for children, and have been used in previous festivals.

I would like to thank Terry Aizen, Sigal Tish, Justine Cohen, Robyn Draper, Chani Engel, Evon Hanzelik and Di Wittert for the loan of items for the Purim display.

Roslyn Sugarman, Curator Adelaide Jewish Museum Telephone 8110-0944 February 2002

Purim is a time when we dress up in costumes, make a noise with ‘greggers’, eat Hamantashen, give gifts of food to friends (mishloah manot) and money to the poor.At Purim we also read in Synagogue from the Book of Esther which tells the story of how the Jews

of Persia were saved from Hamans plot to destroy them. It is a story dating 2,400 years ago with the following abbreviated sequence of events:

o Achashverosh was the King of Persia, and he ruled the largest kingdom in the world

o To commemorate his 3rd year in power, he requests Queen Vashti to appear at his celebrations and show off her beauty but she refuses. The Kings advisors suggest that she be dethroned. Officials search throughout the Persian Empire to identify beautiful candidates to replace her

o Esther, the niece of Mordechai, is brought to the capital of Persia and is chosen as queen. Esther conceals her Jewish identity

o Mordechai learns of a plot to overthrow the king; he tells Esther to warn the king

o Achashverosh appoints Haman as prime minister; Haman expects everyone to bow down to him, but Mordechai refuses

o Haman is enraged and vows to kill all the Jews of Persia. A royal edict is sent out and the 13th of Adar is designated as the date to exterminate the Jews

o Haman wanted to execute his plan on a lucky day, blessed by the gods. He cast lots (‘purim’ in Hebrew) to choose the day o Mordechai pleads with Esther to use her influence to intervene

o At the same time, the king learns that Mordechai saved his life by revealing the assassination plot

o Haman comes to see the king about hanging Mordechai, but before h

e speaks, the king instructs him to dress Mordechai in royal garments and parade him through the streets as a hero

o Esther reveals her Jewish identity, identifies Haman as her enemy, and announces that she and her people are about to be murdered

o The king has Haman hung on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordechai

o Mordechai is named prime minister, replacing Haman

o The Jews are empowered to fight and kill anyone who would try to

harm them; On the 13th day of Adar, the day designated for destruction, the Jews are victorious over their enemies

o Mordechai initiates the Purim practices, consisting of a festive meal, the exchange of gifts of food, and the giving of monetary gifts to the poor

o Esther asked the Rabbis to write the story of Purim and include it in the Bible. Scrolls (megillot) were written and sent to the Jews throughout the kingdom

Adapted from the 60-Second Megillah Overview on www.aish.com

 

 

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