This past weekend marked the celebration of Purim in Israel and across the Jewish diaspora, marking the beginning of the Spring holidays/feasts. Purim is the Jewish holiday commemorating God’s faithfulness to his chosen people against the wicked Haman in the ‘Megillah’, also known as the Book of Esther in the Bible. This holiday is celebrated every year on the 14th of Adar in the Jewish calendar and extends into the weekend in Jerusalem, where an extra day of festivities is observed. This holiday is vital to remember God’s promise of protection to the Jew’s in ancient Persia, and that he delivered them from the tyrant Haman. Haman plotted to kill off every Jewish man, woman, and child in Persia and would have succeeded if it were not for the courage of Queen Esther who interceded for her people. Today the more serious tones of heroism and near-death peril for the Jewish people have been transformed into a joyous occasion for Jews, young and old, to celebrate the Lord’s fidelity to protect them and ultimately restore His people to their homeland.
Many of the cultural traditions of today that are done in light-spirit can be traced to serious teachings from the Megillah. For example, the holiday of Purim in modern times is celebrated by participants wearing elaborate costumes, which can range from the likeness of the biblical characters themselves to modern-day superheroes and pop-culture icons.This tradition of costumes and masks, many believe, is derived from the fact that there is a lack of outright mention of God’s name throughout the written story. For some, this lack of the Lord’s name indicates an absence of His presence in ancient Persia. However, for many who can clearly see His works on behalf of liberating the Jewish people say that it is not an absence of God, but a ‘hidden’ nature. Jewish analytical texts show that the name Esther comes from the Hebrew word meaning “concealment”, and the word Megillah comes from the Hebrew root meaning “revelation”, therefore, the entire story indicates that it is our job to find revelation in the hidden nature of God in the story of Purim!
CBN Israel had the pleasure of hosting Purim festivities this past weekend at Yad HaShmona, a “moshav”, or collective village/settlement outside of Jerusalem, which was originally founded by Finnish believers of the Kibbutz movement in the 1970s. It is now a vibrant community of Believers residing in the picturesque Judean Hills, and are known for drawing in crowds for their celebrations of numerous Jewish feasts. CBN Israel was proud to host a vibrant festivity for members of the Moshav and surrounding residents to eat traditional fare, like Oznei Haman (also known as Haman’s ears, a cookie shaped after the famous villain), and enjoy watching the episode of SuperBook’s illustration of the story of Queen Esther.SuperBook is CBN’s collection of beloved animated Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments for distribution across the globe in over 40 languages and was just recently produced in Hebrew. Children gathered at the Moshav to color in SuperBook coloring books, receive SuperBook merchandise, watch the Purim story in theater-style animation, and even greet Gizmo, the famous robot side-kick who travels throughout the episodes on biblical adventures. Clearly, SuperBook was the star of the show at this holiday gathering, and for parents, at the event, they noted that “to see the stories that [they and their children] had grown up reading now in animation really brought the Bible to life!”
New and old traditions merged for a celebration of Purim, the Book of Esther and SuperBook this past week. As one looked out onto the celebration of Israeli Believers, celebrating the miracle of Esther and the unveiling of the Lord’s faithfulness from atop the Jerusalem Hills, it clearly showed that God’s promise to protect and deliver His people is surely not hidden any longer!