Jewish community celebrate Festival of Purim

Jewish community celebrate Festival of Purim

A priceless manuscript stored in the University of Aberdeen’s special collections will today (Tuesday, March 10) form the centrepiece of a colourful Jewish festival.

The Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination – a story recounted in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Esther.

As part of the celebrations, members of Aberdeen's Jewish community and staff at the University will join Edinburgh Rabbi, David Rose, to hear the whole tale read from biblical scrolls believed to date back to the 15th century.

This is the fourth time the University has held the annual event, which is one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar.

Costumed children are encouraged to boo, hiss and stamp their feet – and generally make as much noise as possible – during the times in the service when Haman, the villain of the story, is mentioned.

"There is an active and vibrant Jewish community in Aberdeen, and across Scotland, and the Festival of Purim still has great meaning to members of the Hebrew community," explained Professor Chris Fynsk, Head of the School of Language and Literature at the University.

"The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther in which we are commanded to eat, drink and be merry. It is also a tradition to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts for charity.

"It is a real family festival and we encourage people, especially the younger people, to get dressed up and bring along their own noisemakers. Rabbi Rose gave a warmly remembered performance when we first held the event in 2006 and we are delighted to have him back in Aberdeen."

The University safeguards a quarter of a million rare books and manuscripts, including a rich collection of over 1,000 items related to Jewish religion and history. The collection also includes the two scrolls of text from the Book of Esther.

Tuesday's event is co-sponsored by the Aberdeen Hebrew Congregation and made possible with the generous assistance of the University's Special Collections team. It will take place at 3:30pm in Room 614 of the MacRobert Building.