Congregation Beth Shalom celebrates Purim

DeKALB – A carnival, Megillah reading and potluck dinner will be held by Congregation Beth Shalom in DeKalb, serving DeKalb and Kane counties, to mark the holiday of Purim. The events will be held at the congregation’s synagogue at 820 Russell Road in DeKalb. The congregation’s rabbi, Maralee Gordon, will preside.

Purim marks a time long ago when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. The story of Purim, which is told in the Bible in the book of Esther, involves a beautiful young Jewish woman named Esther and her cousin Mordecai. Esther becomes the queen of the king of Persia, Ahasuerus, who does not know that she is Jewish. The villain is Haman, an adviser to the king, who hatches a plot to destroy the Jewish people. Mordecai and Esther are able to foil the plot, saving the Jews. Meanwhile, Haman is hanged on the gallows that he had had prepared for Mordecai.

On Purim, Jews are commanded to hear the reading of the book of Esther, which is usually referred to as the Megillah (a word that means “scroll”). Whenever people hear the name of Haman during the reading, they boo, hiss, stamp their feet and rattle noisemakers called groggers. People are also commanded to eat, drink and be merry. Another custom is to eat hamentaschen, triangular fruit-filled cookies that are supposed to represent Haman's three-cornered hat.

Congregation Beth Shalom will celebrate Purim on Sunday, Feb. 24. Events begin with a children’s carnival at 3:30 p.m. Then, the Megillah will be read, primarily in English, at 4:30 p.m. There will be a great deal of communal participation, and children of all ages are invited to attend. The Megillah reading will be followed by a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. Those attending are asked to bring a main dish, side dish, salad or dessert to share; drinks and table service will be provided, and hamentaschen will be served. Please note that this is a dairy meal. No meat or meat products or shellfish should be used in preparing dishes.

For more information on Congregation Beth Shalom, phone 815-756-1010 or check the congregation’s website at

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