Special Purims

Local celebrations echoing the Purim theme have been instituted by communities throughout Jewish history.

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Purim of Bandits

In European Turkey, near Andriapole, lies the city of Gumeldjina. In 1786, the city was attacked by bandits intent on pillaging the town. Had they been permitted to ransack the city, its Jewish community would have been in grave danger. Afterward, the Jews were accused of allowing the bandits to enter the city. Again, they were in danger. With great difficulty, however, they managed to prove their innocence. In memory of their escaping both predicaments, a special Purim was instituted on the 22nd day of Cheshvan for the Jews of Gumeldjina.

The Purim of Sharif

The city of Tripoli, which contained a large Jewish community, was threatened with extermination when the ruler of Tunis besieged the city. The leader had threatened to kill all the inhabitants of the city. With just one last fortress to conquer, a sudden epidemic spread among his soldiers and he was forced to withdraw with the remains of his army. The Jews of Tripoli instituted that day, the 24thday of Tevet, as a Purim.

Purim Sebastiano

The King Dom Sebastiano of Portugal invaded Morocco in 1578. Two Marranos [Jews who ostensibly converted to Christianity in the Inquisition but retained their religion in secret] informed the Jewish community that if the invasion succeeded, all the Jews of Morocco would be forcibly converted. At the battle of Alcazarquebir, the Portuguese were defeated and Dom Sebastiano was killed in battle. That day was set aside by the Jews of Morocco as a Purim.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher from The Jewish Holidays: A Journey Through History.(Jason Aronson, Inc.)

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Larry Domnitch

Larry Domnitch is a freelance writer and Jewish educator. He has a master's degree in Jewish history from Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School.