Purim is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim. Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman, the King’s prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. The reading of the megillah is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman’s name is read aloud.
In addition to our annual Religious School Purim carnival, we at Beth Shalom have a tradition of a wonderful Purim shpeil. Members of the congregation of all ages – from our youngest to our oldest members – put on a humorous, song-filled version of the Purim Megillah. In many years, the shpeil is written (as well as performed) by our own members! Titles have included Schmaltz: A Greased Purim, Chai Noon: A Megillah of the Wild West and The Man With the Golden Bouffant.