Purim Walkthrough - 2019

Purim Walkthrough - 2019
Date Uploaded: 
Wednesday 14th February 2018

Purim 2019/5779

We celebrate Purim each year on the 14th of Adar, which this year coincides with the night of Wednesday, March 20 and the day of Thursday, March 21.

Purim is one of our happiest and most fun, holy days! We celebrate the miracles recorded in the biblical Book of Esther, when the Jews of the Persian Empire, led by Queen Esther and Mordechai, were saved from genocide planned by the demagogic politician, Haman.

The festival is usually immediately preceded by the Fast of Esther, however when Purim falls straight after Shabbat, which is not the case this year, the Fast of Esther is pushed back to the Thursday prior to Purim, so as to not fast on Shabbat.

Therefore, the date and timings for the Fast of Esther this year are as follows:

Fast of Esther: Wednesday, March 20

Start time: 4:24am

End time: 6:54pm

This fast day commemorates the fasting the Jews undertook at the time of the Purim story. 

It is customary to give three 50p coins to charity in order to commemorate the half-shekel. This is usually given in shul either on the afternoon of the Fast of Esther or prior to the reading of the Megillah on Purim.

A Torah portion known as ‘Zachor’ is read every year on the Shabbat preceding Purim, this year on March 16, and it is a special mitzvah to hear this portion.

Purim Festival: Wednesday evening, March 20 and Thursday day, March 21

There are four unique mitzvot for both adults and children to complete on Purim. These are:

1)    To hear the Megillah

This mitzvah is performed twice: on Purim night and on Purim morning.

The two Megillah readings this year will be on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, March 20-21. Please check with your local shul for reading times and other activities.

2)    To deliver food parcels to friends (Mishloach Manot)

The delivery of Mischloach Manot is customarily done Purim morning, which this year is Thursday, March 20

The Mishloach Manot parcels are sent to at least one friend and should contain a minimum of two food/drink items which are ready to eat.

3)    To give charity to those in need (Matanot Le’evyonim)

We are especially generous at Purim. The giving of charity can be in the form of money or food and is customarily given on Purim morning, this year on Thursday, March 20, to at least two people in need.

If this is not possible, one can give money either to a designated individual or to their local synagogue’s specific collection, which will then be given to those in need on Purim. 

4)     To have a festive meal/Purim Seudah

The traditional Purim Seudah takes place during the day of Purim, usually mid-afternoon before sunset, carrying on until early evening, this year on Thursday, March 20. This is an opportunity to celebrate the miracles that took place.

There are also certain additional prayers that we add on Purim. We read a special portion from the Torah (Exodus Chapter 18, Verses 8-16) and we also add ‘Al Hanisim’ to our Shemonah Esrei and Bentching (Grace after meals) on Purim.

It is customary to wear fancy dress on Purim to commemorate the hidden role that God played in the Purim story.

The 15th of Adar is Shushan Purim. In ancient walled cities, such as Jerusalem, the festival of Purim is celebrated on this day. This year Shushan Purim is Friday, March 22.