Flags, Tambourines, and Esther Pockets – Purim, a little different

In our permanent exhibition, there is a spot reserved for topics that are au courant: three prominently placed pot-bellied display windows that we call the “raviolis”.

Photo of so called "ravioli" display windows in the permanent exhibition

“Ravioli” display windows in the permament exhibition © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Christiane Bauer

These display windows were filled once again with new exhibits for Purim, now. The new presentation looks at the festival from a feminist perspective and directs viewers’ attention to the latest developments substantially being shaped by Jewish women in the USA.

The focus of the presentation is on the two female characters of the Purim story that is read aloud at synagogue during the service: Esther and Vashti. Little attention has been paid to the latter for a long time. She was the first wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus, who cast her out because of her disobedience. He subsequently took the beautiful Jew Esther as a wife, who was shy and quiet, quite unlike the defiant Vashti. But over time Esther emerged from her reticence to transform into the courageous heroine we know, thwarting the conspiracy to murder the Persian Jews.

 continue reading