Congregation Marks Purim with Reading and Costumes
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)
Fairfield, CT – It’s not every day that you see parishioners wearing jester hats, crazy wigs and cowboy costumes in a house of worship. But on the holiday of Purim, this is par for the course.
Wednesday at sundown, Congregation Ahavath Achim members began the celebration at their synagogue, 1571 Stratfield Road. Young and old alike donned festive outfits to sit for a reading in the sanctuary then enjoy homemade food and traditional treats.
“The holiday of Purim recalls the story in the biblical Book of Esther in which the infamous Haman plots to destroy the Jewish people,” explained Rabbi Mitch Rocklin. “The plot is foiled by Esther the Persian Queen and her cousin Mordecai.”
Rocklin added, “The holiday involves two different emotions: gratitude for the ability to fight evil and joy for having been saved. There are four basic elements to the celebration: reading the Book of Esther, giving gifts to friends and neighbors, a festive meal and charity to the poor. The holiday is not a holiday if the needs of the poor are not taken care of.”
To that regard, cash and check donations, as well as baskets of food, are distributed to the poor. “The baskets are called mishloach manot and they are assembled by congregation members,” said Susan Klein, VP of the congregation’s sisterhood. “Thirty five volunteers put together 134 baskets, each of which includes a fruit-filled pastry called a hamantaschen. The hamantaschen are three-cornered, meant to be a reminder of the villain Haman in the Purim story, who wore a tri-corner hat.”