Monday, March 1, 2010

ABBA helps Jews celebrate ancient festival

David Hilton, in fancy dress according to Purim tradition, reads the Story of Esther scroll in Sydney's Great Synagogue yesterday

IT IS a Jewish festival that dates back about 2500 years and yesterday it was celebrated in Sydney with a little help from Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid.

The city's Jewish community observed Purim, a day marking the story of Queen Esther's rescue of the Jews from genocide in Persia.

Part of the tradition of Purim is attending the annual celebration in dress-up. Sydney's Great Synagogue yesterday became a sea of brightly coloured wigs, masks and a man in jockey silks.

The other Purim tradition is during the reading of the book of Esther - also known as the Megillah - to boo at each mention of royal adviser Haman, who wanted to destroy the Jewish people.

To cap off the celebration, yesterday's traditional reading at the Great Synagogue was followed by a performance of Megillah Mia!, a stage show that takes the Purim story and puts it to the music of ABBA.

Such performances, known as a ''purim spiel'' have been absent from celebrations at the synagogue for a number of years. The synagogue's new board and events committee had decided to reinstate the performances as a way to reconnect with in a social setting, Rabbi Lawrence said.


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