The Masks that We Wear

The Masks that We Wear

Feb 26, 2021 By Ofra Backenroth | Tetzavveh | Purim

Growing up in Israel, Purim was a wonderful experience, full of fun and games. Dressing up, putting on masks, going to parties, and attending the Purim Parade in Tel Aviv—the Adloyada. This name is derived from a rabbinic saying in the Talmud that one should revel on Purim by drinking “until one no longer knows [how to distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordecai’]” (BT Megillah 7b). Attending the parade was great fun, but also had a mysterious aspect. Who are the people hiding behind the masks? What are they concealing and what are they trying to reveal? It was all very colorful and happy but, in equal measure, scary and confusing.

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Purim Resources

Purim Resources

Feb 27, 2019 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Purim | Shabbat Zakhor

A curated listing of Purim and Shabbat Zakhor resources on JTS Torah Online

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Cantillation for Megillat Esther

Cantillation for Megillat Esther

Oct 22, 2018 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Prayer Recordings | Purim

Recordings by Cantor Sarah Levine (CS ’17). Cantillation for Megillat Esther – Trop Symbols

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The Performance of Memory

The Performance of Memory

Mar 10, 2017 By Avinoam Patt | Commentary | Purim | Shabbat Zakhor

On the Shabbat before Purim the maftir Torah reading includes the following verses:

Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you came forth out of Egypt … you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget it. (Deut. 25:17-19)

Because of this reading it is called Shabbat Zakhor (Remember). The verses recited in Deuteronomy are in effect already a remembering of what Amalek did shortly after the flight from Egypt.

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Seeking God’s Face

Seeking God’s Face

Mar 7, 2017 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Short Video | Purim

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Purim: The Triumph of Understanding Over Hatred

Purim: The Triumph of Understanding Over Hatred

Feb 12, 2013 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Podcast or Radio Program | Purim

Taken from the archives of “The Eternal Light” radio program, this 1954 commentary on Purim is delivered by Murray Bellow, a noted civic leader of the time.

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Little Purim

Little Purim

Feb 12, 2013 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Podcast or Radio Program | Purim

A 1951 episode of “The Eternal Light” radio program about a boy and his violin on Purim.

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Memory: Judaism’s Lifeblood

Memory: Judaism’s Lifeblood

Mar 2, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Purim

My father died 14 years ago. This week I will observe his Yahrzeit once again.

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Amalek

Amalek

Feb 27, 2015 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Purim | Shabbat Zakhor

The Shabbat prior to Purim, known as Shabbat Zakhor, takes its name from the first word of the special maftir (additional Torah reading) for the day, which retells the story of the first post-enslavement attack against the newly freed Israelites:

Remember (zakhor) what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt . . . You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

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Purim Heroines

Purim Heroines

Mar 18, 2016 By Stefanie B. Siegmund | Commentary | Purim

I did not wear the crown and satiny dress, or stand in line for the beauty pageant. Queen Esther was not a role model I—or many other children—could choose. Later, in the academy, I understood that Esther’s subterfuge and seduction were the strategies of the weak, the politics of the minority. 

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