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Purim Celebrations Start Tonight; U.S. Servicemen to Observe Holiday

Jewish members of the U.S. Armed Forces at American military installations around the world will celebrate the merry holiday of Purim which starts at sundown tomorrow with the reading of the Megillah, the Book of Esther in the Bible. Jewish chaplains will conduct services and the National Jewish Welfare Board has shipped food packages and gift boxes to the military posts.

In a Purim message, Morris W. Berinstein, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, urged American Jewry to increase their gifts to the UJA in view of the increased emigration of Jews from East European countries to Israel where huge funds are needed to provide them with housing and work. A similar message was also issued by Abraham Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization which helps to strengthen Israel’s economy through the sale of Israel bonds in this country.

The word Purim means lots and refers to the manner in which an ancient Persian bigot, Haman by name, decided on what day to carry out his plan to get rid of the Jewish people. Haman’s wrath was kindled by the refusal of Mordecai the Jew to bow down to him or his effigy. Sensing that the Jewish faith was hostile to dictatorship Haman planned to eliminate the Jews. How his plot was thwarted through an act of patriotism on the part of Mordecai and by the courageous intercession of Esther, Mordecai’s cousin, who became Queen of Persia, is the story told in the Book of Esther.

The joyousness of the holiday observance, which expresses itself through song and prayers of thanksgiving, derives from the relief felt each year over the triumph over tyranny. Gift giving and giving to the poor also mark the day. Services in all synagogues will use the ancient festival to stress the continuing need to combat bigotry and despotism today. In schools and homes Purim is a time of rejoicing and feasts. The festival ends Tuesday at sundown.

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