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updated: 3/13/2014 9:41 AM

Chabad center puts a twist on Purim celebration March 16

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Submitted by Rabbi Mendel Shemtov

"Purim in the Shtetl" is Chabad Jewish Center of Elgin's creative twist to this year's community Purim celebration, which will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the Einstein Academy, 747 Davis Road, Elgin. It will feature the Tum Balalaika Klezmer Band.

Participants will enjoy a delicious traditional dinner. In addition, the celebration will feature sofer scribal art, rugelach baking, a Shtetl photo booth and a Multimedia reading of the biblical scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillah.

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In the spirit of Purim, participants are encouraged to come in costume. The event is a communitywide program, and all are welcome to join, regardless of Jewish affiliation or background. To help cover expenses, guests are requested to pay $6 per child, $12 per adult or $36 per family. Program sponsorship is $180.

The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. It begins this year after sundown on March 15 and ends at nightfall on March 16. The holiday commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman's plot "to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day." The name of the holiday, Purim, literally means "lots," for Haman determined the day of the annihilation by drawing a lottery. It is observed by public readings of the Megillah, or Scroll of Esther, to recount the story of the Purim miracle, sending food gifts to friends, giving gifts of money to the poor and enjoying a festive Purim meal. For more on Purim's history, observances and meaning, plus fun and other activities for the entire family, visit www.elginchabad.com/purim.

During the past 50 years, there has been a revival in the observance of the Purim holiday. This phenomenon can be directly traced to the vigorous outreach efforts of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, under whose direction the Chabad-Lubavitch movement distributed hundreds of millions of Purim packages and explanatory brochures, organized countless public readings of the Book of Esther in places famous and obscure and otherwise reached out to Jews of all walks of life to encourage them to partake in the holiday's celebration.

Chabad Jewish Center of Elgin regularly hosts Jewish cultural events and informative courses on a variety of Judaic subjects, as well as Shabbat and holiday meals and prayer services.

For information on Chabad Jewish Center of Elgin's Purim festivities or on the holiday of Purim and its observances, contact Chabad Jewish Center of Elgin at (847) 440-4486 or email rabbi@elginchabad.com or visit www.elginchabad.com.

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