As Jews celebrate Purim this Saturday night, a surprising figure could be making an appearance in some synagogues: Steve Bannon. What might the controversial presidential adviser have to do with the Jewish holiday?
Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jews of ancient Persia from death at the hands of an evil government official named Haman. The story, told in the Book of Esther, shows how the beautiful Esther, with her cousin Mordechai’s guidance, became queen and helped turn the tables on Haman. Esther opened King Ahasuerus’ eyes to Haman’s designs and thus saved the Jews. Purim is a classic Jewish holiday. As the old joke goes, “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.”
But there’s more to Purim than eating. Jews are required to hear the tale read from the Book of Esther, to give gifts of food to at least two other Jews, and to participate in a festive meal that includes certain holiday-specific blessings. Many Jews also dress in costume and attend a humorous play at their synagogue.