Purim Glossary

Key words and phrases for Purim.

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Gragger—literally, “noisemaker.” Graggers are used during the reading of the megillah. When the reader speaks the name of Haman the congregation tries to drown out the evil name using noisemakers and booing.

Hamantaschen--Yiddish for "Haman's pockets," also known as “oznay Hamanmeaning "Haman's ears." A triangular cookie with a filling (typically jam or poppyseed) inside, traditionally eaten on Purim.

Matanot l’evyonim—literally, “gifts to the poor.” It is a commandment to give to the poor on Purim.

Megillah—the Scroll of Esther, a book of the bible read during the holiday of Purim. Megillah scrolls are often illuminated. gragger

mishloah manot, shlah manot—literally, “sending portions to one another.” A phrase taken from the Megillah that commands the Jewish community to give small packages of food or gifts to friends on the day of Purim.

Purim—literally, “lottery.” Also the name of the holiday where the Scroll of Esther is read.

Seudah—literally, “feast,” there is a commandment to have a festive meal, or a seudat mitzah, on the day of Purim. Wine and liquor are traditionally served at the festive meal.

Shpiel—literally, "play" or "skit." A Purim shpiel is a humorous and dramatic presentation of the events outlined in the book of Esther, often performed on Purim eve.

Taanit Esther—literally, “the fast of Esther.” A fast from sunrise to sunset on the day before Purim, it commemorates the fast that Queen Esther and the Jews of Shushan undertook.

Tzedakah—literally, “righteousness,” but it is often interpreted as charity. It is a commandment to give tzedakah to those in need on Purim.



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