Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The gantze megilla

Yesterday was Purim for most of the Jews in Israel and the world.
Today is Jerusalem's turn to celebrate Purim.
Today is also when the Jewish community in Shushan, Iran marks the holiday.
Why? Well, it's a long story. If you really want to know, please see below.

I looked around for Purim costumes but then didn't have the nerve to photograph anyone from the front.
 All the ultra-Orthodox men were out in their finest clothes today, including the round fur streimel hat. The little boy made a good fireman.

The girl with halo and wings . . . a black angel?

This old character in the shuk reminded me of a Viking warrior.

OK, the answer (from Wikipedia, based on Chabad):
Shushan Purim (the 15th day of Adar) is the day on which Jews in Jerusalem and Shushan (in Iran) celebrate Purim. 
The Book of Esther explains that while the Jews in unwalled cities fought their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th, the Jews in the walled capital city of Shushan spent the 13th and 14th defeating their enemies, and rested on the 15th (Esther 9:20-22).

Although Mordecai and Esther decreed that only walled cities should celebrate Purim on the 15th, in commemoration of the battle in the walled city of Shushan, the Jewish sages noted that Jerusalem, the focus of Jewish life, lay in ruins during the events of the Book of Esther. 

To make sure that a Persian city was not honored more than Jerusalem, they made the determination of which cities were walled by referring to ancient cities walled during the time of Joshua. 
This allowed Jerusalem to be included on the basis of that criteria; paradoxically, they included Shushan as the exceptional case since the miracle occurred there, even though it did not have a wall in Joshua's time.

The Megillah is also read on the 15th in a number of other cities in Israel—such as Jaffa, Acre, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron—but only as a custom based on a doubt over whether these cities were walled or sufficiently walled during the time of Joshua. 

These cities therefore celebrate Purim on the 14th, and the additional Megillah reading on the 15th is a stringency. Jews in these cities do not recite the blessings over the reading of the Megillah on the 15th. 


Mediterranean kiwi said...

those costumes look so carnivalesque - and i would also lose my nerve photographing people in these costumes when they are looking straight at me

Yaelian said...

Purim Sameach Dina!

Leora said...

I'm wondering about your black angel. Since everything seems to be a Harry Potter reference these days, thinking it might be some character from those books that I can't recall.

Happy Shushan Purim.

Dina said...

Kiwi, I guess you could say Purim is our version of carnival.

Yaelian, todah. Gam lach!

Leora, if you find out, let me know. I was wondering too.

richies said...

Once again an interesting an informative post. I love the story of Esther. I need to read it again soon.

An Arkies Musings

Dina said...

Richie, the modern translation (_The Message_) makes the Book of Esther even easier to read.

Dina said...

Richie, I mean the translation I linked to in yesterday's post.

Kay said...

This is so much fun, Dina. I love seeing a Jewish celebration that looks like just plain fun. Aren't most Jewish special days more serious or is that my misconception?

Dina said...

Kay, you're probably right. Purim is the only holiday where it is a mitsvah to be slightly drunk. You know, wine gladdens the heart of man, and all that. Joy, happy, even silly is the word of the day.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Did you ever see "For Your Consideration"? by the director of Waiting for Guffman. Comedic take on Purim. Very funny.

Cloudia said...

I loved the street scenes of Purim. Thanks! aloha-

Pietro said...

Dina, to photograph people from the front is often a bit complicated, isn't it? I like these images: a very informative post.

JC said...

Well this is a new one for me. Thanks. So what were you dressed as?

Robin said...

Love the combination of the streimel and the fireman.

No idea what the black angel might be, but it's definitely not anything from Harry Potter.

Nihal said...

With my wishes for a Happy Purim to you. This is my first time to visit your page, but grabbed my attention, very interesting content and also specific view of angle.

jeannette St.G. said...

Even though I know the story of Esther, I now realize I
didn't "know" it well enough. for instance that Shushan's location is in Iran! Thanks for sharing!

spacedlaw said...


Meead S. said...

Dina I'm so excited how close and tied our histories are. Many people do not know anything about the history of Jews in Iran, specially in the greate Iran under the Persian empire.

Did you know that the tombs of Esther and her uncle Mordeca have protected and they are still in Iran, in a beautiful city called Hamedan? These tombs dates back 2352 years ago and they are still visited by Jews as the most holy Jewish pilgrimage site in Iran. Read this interesting article:

About Shushan. This ancient city is still alive and it is called Shush today. The tomb of prophet Daniel is there in addition to many other hostorical places date back to late Biblical times.

Anyway, the more we dive into the history, the more evidences we find that confirm this statement: "Iran is a great part of Jewish history and Jews are great part of Iran's history as well."

Meead S. said...

Here is a link to a set of photos of Esther and Mordechari shrine in Hamedan, Iran: