Thursday, March 8, 2012
Today is Purim - The Feast of Esther. It is the story of redemption and deliverance. God used an obedient, young woman to speak up and warn the king of an impending plot to annihilate the Jewish people and thereby spare her people from destruction.
Traditionally, the Book of Esther is read aloud today, and it is a time of celebrating and merriment as we rejoice in God's mighty deliverance! It is a day for dressing up; we always wore costumes for each of the four main characters of the story: King Ahasuerus , Queen Esther, Mordecai the hero, and Haman the villain.
The reading aloud of the book of Esther is participatory. We shake rattles and blow horns throughout the reading. Each time we hear "King Ahasuerus" the audience says, "OOOOO" because he's the king. "Esther," or "Queen Esther" elicits an "AAHHHH" because she's the queen. The name "Haman," the evil character, is greeted with loud "BOOOO's", and at the hearing of "Mordecai," Esther's Uncle, we all cry "YYYAAAAYY" because he is a hero. He mourned publicly at the city gates because of the impending doom and spoke to Esther these wise words of wisdom which, I believe, apply to our lives today...
"For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Purim is also a time of feasting and giving gifts. One of our favorite traditional foods is Hamantaschen - a triangular shaped cookie (to symbolize Haman's hat) with a filling of apricot, prune, poppy seed, apples, jam...
Here's a recipe I think I'll try this year:
3/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup liquid from prunes (see filling below)
4 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
In a large bowl mix together oil, sugar, eggs and prune liquid until well blended.
Mix together dry ingredients and add to above mixture.
Blend together well and refrigerate for at least one hour.
12 oz pitted prunes
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup honey or 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Cover prunes with boiling water.
Let stand 1/2 hour or simmer 10 minutes.
Drain juice and reserve.
Place all ingredients in food processor and process until well -mixed
*(I'll do this without the food processor)
Remove dough from refrigerator.
Divide into three parts.
Roll each part to 1/4 inch thick on well floured board.
Cut into 3 inch rounds.
*(Personally I pull off a piece of dough, roll it into a ball and flatten it into a round with the bottom of a floured drinking glass)
Put 1/2 tsp filling in the center of each round
Fold 3 sides up to the center and pinch edges together to form a triangle with the filling showing in the middle.
Bake on a greased baking sheet at 375 degrees for approx 12 mins, or until golden brown.
I do have to chuckle when I see these old photos. We had just arrived in a new town and had recently begun attending a Messianic congregation when Purim arrived. We showed up for service dressed to the hilt in costumes with homemade maracas ready to celebrate. I think we caused quite a stir in that sweet little assembly!