On Thursday, February 21st, we held a Leaders’ VIP Dinner as an official kick-off to the 2013 March of Remembrance Houston breaking the Fast of Esther together. This evening marks the beginning of the Festival of Purim
About the Fast of Esther and Purim
One of the most famous Jewish heroines in the Old Testament is Queen Esther. The Book of Esther tells of a young Jewish girl in Persia who is taken to the King’s court. Following the instructions of her guardian and cousin Mordecai, she kept her Jewish heritage a secret. She found favor with the King and he made her his queen.
During this time, a man named Haman was a high ranking official in court. He had a violent hatred of the Jews and hatched a plot to have both Mordecai killed immediately as well as all of the Jews throughout the Persian kingdom. He cast lots to set the day of their destruction.
While God intervened to foil plot to kill Mordecai, Mordecai instructed his cousin to go to the King to intercede on behalf of her people. She and her household fasted for three days and then went to petition the king. He granted her request and signed an order allowing the Jews to defend themselves on the day that had been previously set for their annihilation.
Each year, her courage is remembered and honored during the Fast of Esther, which we are breaking together tonight. This is followed by the Festival of Purim, named after the lots cast by Hamen, celebrated on the 14th of Adar. Traditions include reading the Book of Esther, known as the Megillah; eating hamentaschen cookies which are representative of Haman’s three cornered hat; and gragers are rattled whenever Haman’s name is mentioned to blot it out.