Purim, considered the most festive holiday on the Jewish calendar, begins on the evening of Saturday, March 3rd. A Grand Purim Masquerade Party has been organized by Chabad of the Marina and is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, March 3rd, at the Chabad Jewish Community Center, 2929 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey area. Admission is free.

Information, (310) 301-9770.

On Sunday, March 4th, organizers say a “festive and joyous” meal will be served at noon at the Chabad Jewish Community Center to conclude celebrations of the holiday.

Readings of the Megillah (the story of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jewish people and how it was foiled) are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, March 4th.

Also locally, a Purim carnival with rock climbing, game booths and other children’s activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at B’nai Tikvah Congregation, 8820 Sepulveda Eastway, Westchester. Admission is free.

Information, (310) 645-6262.

A Purim carnival with games, food, music and crafts is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Santa Monica Synagogue, 1448 18th St., Santa Monica.

In Judaism, Purim is traditionally celebrated through eating, drinking, dancing and merriment to commemorate Esther becoming the Queen of Persia and risking her life to save the Jewish people from the malicious plots of Haman of Amalek.

Haman, the prime minister of the king’s court, is said to have devised a scheme to annihilate all the Jews in the kingdom on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar.

Queen Esther appeared before the king to ask him to spare her life and the lives of all the Jews. When the king found out that it was Haman who threatened the lives of the Jews, he issued a decree to hang Haman and spare the Jews, the story goes.

Hamentashen, a pastry that is shaped like Haman’s three-cornered hat, is traditionally eaten on Purim. At the upcoming masquerade, there will be a “make your own Hamentashen” instructional.

Also, soup with stuffed dumplings and stuffed cookies are eaten at Purim time.

Purim is seen as a time to cherish friendship and unity, and one custom includes sending two different types of ready-to-eat food to friends.

The story of Purim goes that in 365 B.C.E. the reigning king of Persia, Achashverosh, hosted a series of royal feasts in his palace.

Intoxicated with the excitement of the festivities and days of endless drinking, Achashverosh commanded his queen, Vashti, to appear before his guests wearing only her crown. When she refused, the king had her executed.

The king eventually chose Esther, cousin of Jewish leader Mordechai, as his new queen, not being informed that she was a Jew. At one point, Mordechai helped foil an assassination attempt on the king and therefore gained the king’s favor.

When Haman began to initiate his scheme to annihilate the Jews, Achashverosh decided to repay Mordechai by putting a stop to Haman’s plot. Haman was eventually hanged on a gallows that was originally intended for Mordechai.

The end of Haman was not the end of the Jewish struggle, and after a victory in battle against their enemies, the Jews consecrated the 14th day of Adarat the festival of Purim, meant to celebrate the demise of Haman and what he stood for.

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