King of Persia (modern-day Iran) and a main character in the Purim story. When his queen, Vashti, refuses to entertain guests at the king’s feast, he banishes her. Young women from throughout the kingdom are brought to the king to be considered, and Ahashverosh chooses Esther as his new queen.
Hero of the Purim story. A young Jewish girl living in the capital city, Shushan, she is chosen by King Ahashverosh to be his new queen. She doesn’t tell him, however, that she is Jewish. Finally, when the lives of all the Jews of Persia are in danger, Esther reveals herself, and the king agrees to save the Jews in order to save his queen.
"Noisemaker" (Hebrew); used to drown out Haman's name during the M'gillah reading on Purim.
The king’s vizier (adviser), a main character in the Purim story. Haman wants everyone in the kingdom to bow down to him, but Mordechai (a Jew) refuses. This leads Haman to decide to kill all the Jews, and he convinces the king to allow the plan. Only the intervention of Esther prevents Haman from carrying out his plan, and in the end, Haman is instead hung on the gallows he had erected for Mordechai.
Triangle-shaped pastries commonly filled with apricot jam or poppyseed spread (or other fillings) and eaten on Purim; the shape represents Haman's hat or ears
"Scroll;" One of the five m'gillot (plural) in the Bible: Esther, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentation and Ecclesiastes.
“Presents for the poor” (Hebrew). Tzedakah (charitable giving) in honor of Purim.
mishloach manos, shalachmanos
"Sending of portions" (Hebrew). Baskets of sweets and other foods exchanged among friends on Purim.
A main character of the Purim story, Mordechai was Esther’s cousin, who raised her after her parents died. He saves the king’s life when he overhears a plot against the king. Mordechai also incurs the wrath of Haman by refusing to bow to him, which leads Haman to plot to kill all the Jews of Persia.
"Lots" (Hebrew). Holiday that commemorates Queen Esther's actions to save the Jews of Persia from death; marked by a festive reading of the story, contained in the Scroll of Esther.
Purim schpiel, Purim shpiel. [Pronounced “shpeel” (rhymes with “reel”)]
Humorous play performed as part of the celebration of Purim.
"Shabbat of Remembrance;" the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim, it takes its name from the additional Torah portion--Deuteronomy 25:17-19--read that day--which begins with the word zachor (remember).