The festival of Purim, the story of which is recorded in the biblical Book of Esther, commemorates the Jewish people’s thwarting of a plan to commit genocide against it by Haman, the royal vizier of 4th century BCE Persian ruler Ahasuerus.
The word Purim means “lots,” not as in “many,” but, rather, as in “lottery.” The holiday was thus named because Haman cast lots to determine exactly when—as fate would have it, the 13th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Adar—he would carry out his scheme.
However, the heroes of the tale, Mordechai and his cousin Esther, foiled the plot when the latter revealed to the king, to whom she was wedded, her Jewish identity. Infuriated, Ahasuerus immediately ordered that Haman be hanged on the very gallows that had been built to kill Mordechai.
The ensuing celebrations that took place some 2,500 years ago are today being mirrored throughout Israel, with much of the population—from infants to the elderly—dressing up in costumes and attending family events, public gatherings or parties.
The Media Line took to the streets of Jerusalem to capture the spirit of the joyous, one-of-a-kind holiday.