The way it was explained to me, the story of Purim, told in the Book of Esther, is a cautionary tale rather than a historical account. My badass-feminist-world-changing Hebrew school teacher, Tracy, is the one who told the story featuring not one but two feminist heroes. Here we go!
Long ago in the kingdom of Shushan, the Jewish people coexisted peacefully (and probably mundanely) with their many non-Jewish neighbors.
In the royal palace, King Ahashveros was having a party with his many male best friends. To entertain them, he told his wife Queen Vashti to dance naked on the table. When Queen Vashti refused, King Ahashveros ordered for her to be executed. (In the 2000s, we can now understand that Queen Vashti was right to say no, and that women deserve to make all of the choices about our own bodies.)
King Ahashveros now needed a new wife. A search was made of the beautiful young women throughout Shushan, and a Jewish woman named Esther was selected to be the new Queen.
Meanwhile, the King’s adviser Haman, wearing his recognizable hat with three corners, was putting through a new law that all the Jewish people would be executed. He drew lots, which is basically like rolling dice, to decide the day that all the Jews should be killed.
King Ahashveros did not know that Queen Esther was Jewish. Esther was terrified, because she knew that saving her people was up to her. After encouragement from her Uncle Mordechai, Esther revealed to King Ahashveros that she was Jewish, exactly like all of the people who Haman wanted to have killed. That was exactly what the King needed to show him that the Jews of Shushan were every-day people, just like everyone else in his kingdom, and they did not deserve in any way to be killed.
That is how the brave and beautiful Queen Esther saved the Jewish people in Shushan. King Ahashveros punished Haman by having him executed instead. And that is why, to this day, Jewish people bake sugar cookies with three corners to represent the triumph over Haman and his hat with three corners.
And so, I checked out all the different flavors of jam at Trader Joe’s today, selecting apricot, strawberry, and raspberry, for the centers of my upcoming hamentaschen.
Link to Grandma Julie’s hamentaschen recipe: Hamentaschen Recipe!
Happy Purim, and Bon Appetit!