Three elements to Jewish feast

SOPHIE SPEER
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013
Rabbi
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

SYMBOLIC: Rabbi Isaac Mizrahi with a hamantaschen biscuit for their Purim gala tomorrow.

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Rabbi Isaac Mizrahi says Jewish holidays share a common theme: "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat. That's the Jewish story in short."

He says Purim is no different, with small triangular-filled pastries called hamantaschen on the menu.

The holiday dates back almost 2200 years, to when Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination, he says.

The Purim festival is preceded by three days of fasting, before a celebratory feast.

"It's the only feast day that doesn't commemorate any tragedy."

The festival has three more obligatory elements besides eating - the Jewish people hear a reading of the Scroll of Esther, they are required to give gift baskets of food and drink, and they must show charity to the poor, Rabbi Mizrahi says.

Masks and costumes are also worn on the holiday, so the Jewish Community Centre will look a little like the rugby sevens parade, he says.

This year the centre is holding a Purim gala, which will be open to the public. "Wellington's a multicultural city and we're part of that."

This is the first time Rabbi Mizrahi has celebrated Purim in Wellington. He came from Nebraska about three months ago to oversee the synagogue.

The rabbi grew up in Ohio before his family moved to Israel.

He says while it is exciting to take part in the festival in a new place, the rituals of Purim are celebrated in the same way throughout the world.

THE DETAILS

The Purim Gala will be on at the Jewish Community Centre, 80 Webb St, tomorrow from 10am till noon. There will be food, live entertainment, games and stalls, and people are encouraged to dress up. Visitors can also visit the Holocaust Centre. Guided tours of the synagogue will be available.

Contact Sophie Speer
Culture and Capital Day reporter
Email: sophie.speer@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @sophie_speer

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