“The Whole Megillah”
“Megillah” is the Hebrew word for scroll, and a scroll is the kind of “book” people used to write down stories in. Here’s what one looks like:
On Purim, we read “The Whole Megillah” of the Book of Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman who once became Queen of Persia and saved her people from harm. Here’s a short form of the Esther Megillah, which will give you an idea . . .
Once upon a time . . .
in a town called Shushan, there lived a man called Mordechai. He was a very good man, and always tried to help people and do the right thing. Mordechai lived with his niece Esther, and they were Jewish, just like you. (That means they liked eating challah and lighting Hanukkah candles and singing Shabbat songs, just like you!)
In the same town there was a king called King Ahashuerosh. He lived in a big palace and had lots of money, but he was a bit lonely. He needed a new queen to come and live with him in the palace. He looked everywhere and eventually he decided that the one person he liked most of all was Esther, who was not only pretty but also kind and very smart.
So Esther said goodbye to her Uncle Mordechai and went to live in the palace with the King and become his queen, but she didn’t tell him she was Jewish.
Now there was a man who worked in the palace who was not very nice. His name was Haman. He expected everyone to do exactly what he said, and to bow down to him when they saw him, and he got angry if someone didn’t do exactly what he wanted.
One day Haman met Mordechai, and Mordechai did not bow down to him. Haman became very cross and he went to the King and said, “There are some people around here who do things differently from other people, and I think you should make them go away.”
The King didn’t really know what Haman was talking about, but he said “OK, you can tell those people to go away, the ones who do things differently”.
What Haman wanted to do was to get rid of Mordechai and Esther and all their Jewish friends!
The Jewish people were very sad, because they liked living in the kingdom and they didn’t want to go away. What could they do?? Mordechai sent a message to Esther at the palace, and the message said “Esther we need your help! That nasty Haman wants to get rid of us all! Please talk to the King and ask him to stop Haman.”
Queen Esther thought “I must be very brave” and she made a special dinner for the King, with all his favourite foods. Then she invited the King and Haman to come and have dinner with her. The King thought dinner was delicious, and he was so happy that after he finished eating, he said to Queen Esther “What can I do for you, to say thank you?”
Queen Esther said “Oh please, I need you to help me and my uncle Mordechai and all our friends, because someone wants to make us go away”.
“That is terrible!” said the King, because he really liked Esther and he didn’t want her to go away. “Who wants to get rid of you and your family and friends?”
Esther pointed at Haman and said “It’s him! Haman wants to get rid of us!”
“Oh no!” said the King, and he was very angry indeed. He called his guards and said “Take away Haman and get rid of him instead!”
Then the king asked Mordechai to come and work at the palace and do Haman’s job – but of course Mordechai was much nicer than Haman! And nobody had to go and live anywhere else if they didn’t want to.
So after that, everyone lived happily in the Kingdom. Mordechai did a really good job working for the king, and Queen Esther made delicious biscuits called Hamantaschen.
On Purim we all dress up in costumes as Queen Esther, King Ahasuerus, Mordecai, and Haman. And we shake noise makers whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, so no one can hear his name. And we eat Hamantaschen, sweet cookies with fruit filling. (“Hamantaschen” means “Haman’s Pockets.”
Purim is a fun time for everyone, as we remember the bravery of Queen Esther!
We will celebrate Purim together with a Queen Esther Party on March 11, 2017!