Purim is one of the most cheerful holidays in the Jewish calendar. In fact, however, the Purim story from the Book of Esther has its dark side. The Biblical Megillat Esther recounts a plan to murder all the Jews in Persia.
The story tells of the evil vizier Haman, who wins King Ahasuerus’s (Artaxerxes II, 405-359 b.c.e.) consent for his plot, and of two Jews, Mordechai and his niece, the beautiful Esther, Ahasuerus’s queen who prevents the plan through an act of courage in the presence of the king. Hearing Esther’s plea, the king decides to kill not the Jews, but their enemies instead. This rescue is celebrated in late winter through feasts and costume parties and sending gifts of food to friends and the poor.
Exhibition about Purim on Children’s Island (until 2017)
Brave Esther and Other Stories
Our staff members write about Purim-themed objects and latter-day Purim customs.
Costumes, Noisemakers, and Hamantaschen
Discover objects from our collections related to the festival of Purim.
From hot-ticket item to shelf warmer...
From our Holdings
“Clever Esther”— Not Suitable for Children?!
Shlomit Tripp on her retelling of the Esther story