The Jewish holiday of Purim starts tonight. It is the story of Queen Esther, a young lady in ancient Persia (present-day Iran), who puts her life on the line to save her people. When it becomes clear that the lives of millions are in her hands, she knows that the only way to survive is to be true to herself.
Last week, after being in the closet for many years, I came out. My mental health demanded it. If I didn’t, I would never be happy. My biggest fear was being rejected. The opposite happened. I got nothing but love, which made it all worth it.
Being yourself is the hardest thing to do, but it is totally worth it.
History is full of brave and badass women who did not shy away from speaking up when it counted. Unfortunately, most of their stories have either been reduced to the footnotes or lost entirely to the sands of time.
On this very short list of females whose names and narratives that we know is Queen Esther. During the Jewish holiday of Purim (which started last night and ended tonight), we remember her because she saved the Jews of Persia from the antisemiticpogrom that was being planned by Haman.
Being that March is International Women’s Month, I can’t think of a better reason to celebrate the legacy of Queen Esther. It took courage and a belief in knowing that she was doing the right thing, even when she knew that her life could be forfeit.
It is for this reason that she is remembered, revered, and respected to this day.
P.S. The newest Maccabeats video (We Don’t Talk About Haman) is out and it is brilliant.
Within the world of fiction (and sometimes non-fiction), there are two main female stereotypes: the good girl and the bad girl. With little to no room to move beyond these basic character descriptions, some women have been forced to play the hand they are dealt.
The Jewish holiday of Purim is started this evening and lasts until tomorrow. Within the world that is the genesis of this holiday, there are only two women, Queen Esther and her predecessor, Queen Vashti. Esther fits neatly in the good girl category while Vashti does the same in the bad girl category. Though Esther is revered as a female icon within the Jewish faith, Vashti has been given a bad rap.
As children, we are taught that Vashti was wicked for disobeying her husband. The reason she was either banished or executed (depending on who tells the story), comes down to the simple fact that the men who were supposed to see her “beauty” were afraid that other women would follow in her footsteps. The only way to quell the potential of any feminist rebellion was to get rid of Vashti and replace her with a woman who knew her place.
In real life, we know that we are much more than the good girl vs. the bad girl. No human being is entirely good or bad. We are a spectrum of personality traits and choices. The problem is that while men have been given unabashed permission to live within this spectrum, women are only starting to move beyond very specific character types.
I think its time to give Vashti her due. In standing up for herself, she is standing up for every women who has been put down and/or limited because of her sex. It’s time to give her her due as a role model instead of reducing her to a one note character.
Esther is an orphaned young woman growing up in ancient Babylonia. Jewish by birth and by practice, she is drafted to be one of the young women presented to the King Ahasuerus as a future bride. Chosen by the King to be his Queen, Esther must hide her identity. When her people are in danger, Esther must make a choice: continue to hide her true self or put herself in danger to save her people.
There are very few stories in the Bible in which a woman is not only front and center, but she is the heroine. The fate of the Jews rests on her shoulders. She knows that remaining silent would save her life. But she also knows that deep down inside, she cannot stand by and watch those she loves being slaughtered simply because of their faith.
My personal takeaway from the story of Purim and the courage of Queen Esther is that being yourself in the face of conformity is the hardest thing anyone of us can do. But, if we are willing to take the risk, the results may just outweigh the fear.
I’m not particularly religious, but as I get older, I realize that the stories in the Bible can still speak to us many generations after they were written.
Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is the story of Esther. To make a long story short, Esther hides her Jewish identity while entered in a beauty contest to see who will become the next Queen of Shushan (modern-day Iran). When she is chosen to be the next Queen, she is faced with an impossible task: save her people from Haman’s wrath while risking her own life in the process.
Looking at the story of Purim through the lens of 2019, I feel like it still speaks to us. It speaks to us because of the growing intolerance that has become acceptable once more in our world.
It also speaks to us because Esther and her predecessor, Vashti, are also two of the strongest women in the Bible. When the King calls for Vashti to appear for all of his guests wearing only her crown (aka walking into a room full of strange, drunk men in her birthday suit), she says no and is sent away. This opens the door for Esther to become Queen and using what little power she has to stop Haman. Esther knows that her husband could easily send her away, or worse, send her to the executioner. But she is brave and knows that the only way to save herself and her people is to reveal who she really is.
The message I get from Purim is that it is possible to be ourselves and stand up to intolerance and hatred. We only need the guts to do so.
Satire, if created properly, is incredible fun to watch. It also points out the ridiculousness of certain situations.
The 2006 movie, For Your Consideration, takes place in modern-day Hollywood. Someone on the internet has announced that a low-budget film entitled “Home For Purim” has started to garner Oscar buzz. That one post starts to snowball as more hands get involved in the film and this simple low-budget film (and by extension, the lives/careers of the actors) has become much more than it was initially meant to be.
Starring Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, this movie is a perfect satire of Hollywood and how making movies has become ridiculously much more than telling a human story with human characters.
Jews around the world dress up and celebrate the victory by Queen Esther over Haman, who was more than eager to rid Shushan of her Jewish population.
Esther, as both a woman and a member of a religious minority, had two strikes against her. But even though she had no power in the traditional sense, she had enough sense of self to stand up for who she was and what she believed in. Even, if it meant that her life would be in jeopardy.
We unfortunately live in a time and place where instead of celebrating our differences, we use them to divide ourselves. The lesson that I take from Purim, especially considering the current state of American culture is that if we want our country to flourish, we have to celebrate our differences. At this point in American history, we have two choices: divide and be conquered or come together and survive. Personally I would rather find a way for us to come together and survive. But that’s me.
Hadassah (Tiffany DuPont) is a orphaned young woman living one of her cousins, Mordecai (John Rhys-Davies). King Xerxes (Luke Goss) has just banished his Queen, Vashti (Jyoti Dogra) and is seeking a new wife. Rounded up with other young woman, Hadassah is taken to the King’s palace as potential bride. But there is a catch. Within the palace, Hadassah has taken on a new identity, Esther. No one knows that she is a Jew.
King Xerxes takes a fancy to Esther/Hadassah and marries her. Soon it becomes clear that Hadassah’s life and the life of every Jew is in danger as Haman (James Callis), one of the King’s minister’s has deadly plans in store for Shushan’s Jewish community. Knowing that her life and the lives of her people are in danger, Hadssah/Esther must take a risk and reveal her true identity. She could live or she could die, but she must do something.
What makes this movie stand out is that not only is the Purim story fleshed out with historical accuracy, but it is a compelling tale of courage with a female lead character who stands up for who she is and what she believes in, even at the potential cost of her own life.
Today is International Women’s Day.Today we honor women, past and present who have paved the way for the success of this generation and future generations.
This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Purim. Jews around the world celebrate Queen Esther’s victory over the murderous Haman.
Esther is one of the strongest women in the bible. An orphan raised by her cousin Mordechai, she expects to live an ordinary life: marry an appropriate young man, raise a family and generally life the life that women have lived for centuries. But fate intervenes. King Ahasuerus is hosting a dinner party for his closest friends. Getting rip-roaring drunk, he commands that his wife, Queen Vashti appear in all of her beauty in her birthday suit to his guests. Vashti refuses and is banished from court.
But now the King is lonely and in need of female companionship. Many women are brought before the King, but it is Esther who catches his eye and is crowned Queen. But before she steps into the palace gates, she renames herself. Instead of the given name of Hadassah, she is now Esther. Her Jewish identity is now hidden.
One of the King’s minister’s Haman has a thirst for power and is more than willing spill a little blood if necessary to get that power. Offended when Mordechai does not bow to him, Haman sets his sights on the Jews of Shushan. Fearing for the safety of her cousin and her people and despite knowing the danger she could be in, Esther steps forward and reveals her true identity. Mordechai and the Jews of Shushan are safe, thanks to the bravery and courage of their Queen.
Unlike most women in the Bible, Esther is a fully formed character who is not simply designated as the wife of ___________ or the daughter of ________. Her intelligence, courage and strength have been a reminder to women across the centuries that we are far more capable than we think we are. And in today’s society when women are fighting for the same rights that our great-grandmothers were fighting for a century ago, Esther’s story encourages us to keep going. When we are willing to step up to the plate, it is possible to change the world.
We just have to have to courage and be willing to make that difficult step.
History says that women are supposed to be meek, mild, subservient and if she has a brain or ambition, she has to hide it. Women who are up front about their needs, their intelligence or openly exhibit ambition are often shamed for speaking out.
This past week was the Jewish holiday of Purim.
The heroine of Purim is Esther. Living in ancient Persia, Esther is an orphan taken in and raised by her cousin Mordechai. She expects to live the life of an ordinary Jewish girl: marry the young man chosen for her, bring children into the world and continue with a lifestyle that Jewish women have been living with for an untold number of years.
But fate has something else entirely different in mind for this young lady.
Inside the palace, King Ahasuerus (thought to be Xerxes I by historians), is entertaining. Deep into his cups, he orders that his wife, Queen Vashti be brought to the revelers, revealing her beauty to them (meaning coming in wearing just her birthday suit). Vashti refuses and is banished. Not wanting to be alone (not that he truly was alone, the King had a harem full of women), the King orders his ministers to find a new bride from among the eligible women of Persia. Esther is chosen to be one of the potential brides, but is warned by Mordechai to hide her identity.
When King Ahasuerus finally chooses a new wife, Esther is crowned Queen. But there is a plot afoot that could endanger the lives of Esther and the Jews of Persia. One of the King’s advisers, Haman, wants to rid the kingdom of her Jews. Esther is at a crossroads. She could say nothing and live, while watching her family and her people be massacred, or she could reveal her true identity, put herself in danger and potentially save her people.
Esther makes the bold and dangerous decision to reveal her identity, knowing that she could go to the gallows. In the end, Esther saves her people and Haman and his ilk are punished.
Among the heroines of the bible, Esther for me, stands out. She is strong, smart and true enough to herself, even to the point of knowing that her fate could be that of Vashti’s. She is a heroine for the ages, a woman who is willing to speak out in a time when women were not supposed to speak out.