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Celebrate with some noise

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By Kirsten Laskey

Purim, the Jewish holiday that will be held on Sunday, is no solemn occasion. In fact, cranking up the noise in celebration is encouraged.

David Izraelevitz of the Jewish Center explained that the story behind Purim features heroism and a happy ending, which calls for some vocal merriment.

During the celebration, a reading of the Book of Esther is conducted.

According to the book, Izraelevitz said, there was a large Jewish community in the King of Persia’s land. The king’s minister, an evil man named Haman, plotted to exterminate the Jews from the kingdom. However, Esther, the queen, helped uncover the plot and saved the community.

Izraelevitz said it's a tradition to read the story, but also to celebrate Haman’s plot being foiled. Therefore, costumes or plays are put on in honor of Purim.

It is also customary, he said, when reading the story to have interruptions of loud noises and booing whenever Haman’s name is mentioned.

The Jewish Center also has its own tradition of shouting of cheering whenever Esther’s name is mentioned.

The Sunday school class also puts on an interpretation of the story. Local playwright Robert Benjamin helps the Sunday school students draft the play. Besides the storytelling, a tradition pastry called hamantaschen will be made. Izraelevitz said the pastry is triangular-shaped to represent the three-corner hat that Haman wore. The baked good has some sort of filling in it – typically fruit.

The celebration of Purim at the Jewish Center will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday. A potluck dinner will be held and participants are encouraged to bring a dairy or vegetarian item.

Following the potluck, an ice cream bar will be held along with a contest for the best hamantaschen. Izraelevitz said people really put their creativity into the contest. For instance, one year a contestant put a chile filling in their hamantaschen.

A costume contest for both children and adults will also be held. Prizes will be awarded at each competition. Izraelevitz encourages people to participate in Purim, which is different from other, more solemn holidays. “Try out your own and other people’s (hamantaschen) recipes and participate in the joyous holiday celebration that is very different from the more serious holidays,” he said.

It is also the chance to catch adults wearing embarrassing costumes.