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Celebrating the whole megillah

Rabbi David Azen with the kids at the Nevada County Jewish Community Center.
Photo by Ruth Goodin

Congregation B’nai Harim at the Nevada County Jewish Community Center recently raised over $1,200 for the Nevada County Food Bank by selling Hamantaschen for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Giving charity to the under-served is one of the obligations of celebrating this holiday.

Purim is the celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from the wicked Haman in the fourth century B.C.E. The scroll (book) of Esther is read on this festive day. The Hebrew word for scroll is megillah. Hence the “whole megillah”.

Purim is often considered the Jewish version of Mardi Gras or Halloween, with costumes, noise-making and other festive activities. The phrase “hester panim” means “hiding in the face” and is often used when discussing the Book of Esther. In this sense of the term, hester panim is similar to the sun on an overcast day. We may not see the sun, but we know it is there. Purim is a celebration of God’s love at work at all times, even when we may not see it. Esther is the only book in the Hebrew Bible that does not explicitly mention the Name of God. Hence the reference to the unseen and the link to wearing masks and costumes.



Hamantaschen are delicious triangular cookies filled with a variety of tasty fillings. The design mimics the three-cornered hat worn by Haman, the villain in the story of Esther. Another interpretation for the triangle is that each of the three corner’s represent the “fathers” of Judaism – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The Nevada County Jewish Community Center (NCJCC) was established in Grass Valley during the 1980’s and has been a longtime member of the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce and is part of the local interfaith community. Congregation B’nai Harim is a reform Jewish Synagogue that is part of the NCJCC and holds regular Shabbat services lead by Rabbi David Azen, as well as celebrating many other Jewish holidays, life cycle events and customs. The synagogue has had an active children’s Sunday school and Hebrew school program since its earliest days with many local Jewish children considering it their second home. The NCJCC hosts annual events such as a Chanukah party, Community Passover Seder, Purim Carnival, All You Can Eat New York Style Jewish “Deli Nite” and the Corner Deli (formerly known as the Bagel Booth) at the Nevada County Fair. The NCJCC Sisterhood is an active and vibrant group of female members that hosts regular events such as the one described in this article and donates money to many local charities.



For more information about Congregation B’nai Harim at the Nevada County Jewish Community Center please visit their website at http://www.NCJCC.org or call 530-477-0922. You can also sign up for their weekly “Schmooze” email with current information about news and events and follow them on Facebook at “Nevada County Jewish Community Center-Congregation B’nai Harim.”

 


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