Thursday March 9th – 11th of Adar Taanit Esther. The Fast of Esther commemorating the fast established by Queen Esther before going to intercede in behalf of the people of Israel in front of King Achashverosh. This year, as Purim’s eve is a Shabbat, the fast is moved to the preceding Thursday. The fast starts at 4:48am and finishes 6:28pm. The Halakha says that this is a minor fast and somebody that has any reason not to fast, even that it will make him/her feel ill, doesn’t have to fast.
Friday March 10th – 12th of Adar Half a Shekel. On the eve of Purim there is a custom to give “half a Shekel” in memory of the annual donation made by all the people of Israel to the Temple that was given at this time of the year. Today we give the money for Tzedakah for the needy, to the communities, synagogues, places of study and yeshivot, all of them considered mikdash meat, a little Sanctuary. How much are we supposed to give? One custom is to give three coins of half the local denomination (£1.5) for each person in the household. Another custom is to give the original value of half a shekel, that’s 9.6 grams of pure silver. There are different ideas, but we are talking about £4 for person.
Shabbat March 11th – 13th of Adar Shabbat Zachor. This is one of the four special Shabatot before Pesach. We read seven Aliyot in Parashat Tetzaveh and Maftir and Haftorah of Shabbat Zachor (Devarim 25:17-19 and I Samuel 15). It is a rare case where it is a commandment to come to Shul and listen to the Maftir in order to fulfill “remember what Amalek did to you”.
Saturday night March 11th – Eve of 14th of Adar Erev Purim. At 7:30pm we will join other Masorti Shuls in Kol Nefesh Masorti in order to hear the reading of the Megillah. Everyone should come in fancy dress and be ready for some Hamentaschen!
Sunday March 12th –14th of Adar Purim. We will have services at 9:30am including a full Megillah reading and leyning from the Torah. After the service, there will be a Purim brunch and many fun activities for children and adults. Be sure to come in fancy dress and, just in case, leave the car at home…
Special Commandments of Purim: – Reading the Megillah: To listen to the reading of the Megillah both in the evening and morning. – Mishloach Manot: Sending portions. We give at least two units of food to one person, usually family and friends. It has to be food ready to eat as it is. It has the purpose of making the day happier and festive. – Matanot la Evyonim: Presents for the poor. We give at least to two different people that need it, it can be money and it is better if we do it through an intermediary. This shows that we want everybody to be happy on this day, even those going through a difficult moment. – Seudah: A feast. It is a festive meal that has to be done during the day (if we do a big meal in the evening it is a good act, but doesn’t fulfill our obligation). We are supposed to eat and drink more that what we are used to.