Purim in Israel in 2025

Purim in Israel in 2025
  How long until Purim?
  Dates of Purim in Israel
2025 Israel Fri, Mar 14 Not A Public Holiday
2024 Israel Sun, Mar 24 Not A Public Holiday
2023 Mar 7, Mar 8
IsraelWed, Mar 8Not A Public Holiday
IsraelTue, Mar 7Not A Public Holiday
2022 Israel Thu, Mar 17 Not A Public Holiday
2021 Feb 26, Feb 28
IsraelSun, Feb 28Not A Public Holiday
IsraelFri, Feb 26Not A Public Holiday

Purim remembers the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to destroy them as recorded in the Book of Esther.

Purim, which in Hebrew means "lottery," celebrates the heroism of Queen Esther in Ancient Persia, who saved her fellow Jews from an imminent plot to wipe them out. The story is read in Hebrew from a megillah, or scroll, where cheering for Esther and jeering the villain, Haman, is enthusiastically encouraged.

Traditionally, the megillah is read twice -- once on the evening of Purim and again the next morning (the holiday lasts from sundown to sundown). 

It is not a public holiday in Israel, but employers may grant optional paid leave. Many offices, shops, and public institutions will operate on a reduced basis. Schools will be closed, but public transportation will operate as usual, and newspapers will be published. 

History of Purim

After the destruction of Judah, the Jews were taken into captivity by the Babylonian empire. When the Persians took control of Babylonia in around 475 CE, Haman, a royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, had plotted to wipe all the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Queen Esther and Mordechai.

Purim means 'lots' as it refers to Haman choosing the date for the massacre of the Jews by casting lots (using stones or sticks with markings).

The Jews then went from being the focus of a decree against them to become the ones allowed to destroy their enemies by royal proclamation.

Purim is celebrated according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. This commemorates the day following the victory of the Jews over the Persians in the battle which was on the 13th day of Adar. It usually falls in late February or March in the Western calendar. In some parts of Israel, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month*.

How is Purim celebrated?

Purim is characterized by public readings of the Book of Esther, giving mutual gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a festive meal. Other customs include drinking wine and the wearing of masks and costumes.

A popular treat during Purim is Hamantash, a filled-pocket pastry with a distinctive three-cornered shape. The shape is achieved by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough, with a filling placed in the centre. Popular fillings are fruit jam, cheese or poppy seeds. They are said to be named after Haman as he wore a three-cornered hat.

On Purim day, typically toward evening, a festive meal called Seudat Purim is held, often with wine as the prominent beverage; consequently, drunkenness is not uncommon at this meal. The jovial character of this feast is illustrated in the saying of the Talmud stating that one should drink on Purim until he can no longer distinguish between the phrases, arur Haman ("Cursed is Haman") and baruch Mordechai ("Blessed is Mordeca"). In Hebrew these phrases have the same gematria ("numerical value"), and some authorities have ruled that one should drink wine until one is unable to calculate these numerical values.

Shushan Purim

In Jerusalem, Purim is usually celebrated one day later than it is elsewhere and all Purim observances in the city are postponed by one day. This practice originates from the fact that an extra day was prescribed for the Jews of Shushan (modern-day Sush in Iran, one of the Persian Empire's four capitals) to defend themselves against their enemies. This second day is known as Shushan Purim. As mentioned in the Book of Esther (9:16-19), Jews living in walled cities celebrate Purim one day later than Jews living in unwalled cities. This means there are several other such cities in Israel where Shushan Purim is celebrated. If there is any doubt as to the walled/unwalled status of a city, the Book of Esther will actually be read on both days.

How do you greet someone on Purim?

Purim greetings are simple: “Happy Purim” will suffice. Want to wish someone a happy Purim in Hebrew? Tell them, “Chag Purim sameach.” In Yiddish, you can say “ah freilichen Purim.”

*Like other Jewish holidays, Purim will begin at sundown on the previous day.

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