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This exhibit shares fun facts, songs, curriculum content, liturgy, and other resources surrounding Purim around the Jewish world and in various Jewish languages.

Purim Kirtan, a traditional Bene Israel song, sung in Marathi by Rivkah Moshe in Mumbai, India. Get the full lyrics on our YouTube page!

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This content centers the role of language in the iconic story of Purim. Each of these fun facts touches on a slightly different aspect of Purim tradition, from the Book of Esther to the names of traditional pastries. This content is a light and accessible avenue into the importance of language in shaping our everyday lives, both as individuals in the world and as part of particular Jewish communities. Several Jewish communities around the world are represented, including those from ancient Persia, early modern Italy, modern Eastern Europe (Yiddish), Ottoman Empire (Ladino), and the Caucasus (Juhuri).

Of all of the holidays on the Jewish calendar, Purim is among the most fun to observe, celebrate, and tell the story of. The lexicon of the holiday, including characters, foods, instruments, and concepts like love, identity, and luck, helps to tell the story of the diversity of the Jewish Diaspora. We praise characters like Esther and Mordechai, whose names are today identifiably Jewish but are derived from Babylonian gods; we eat hamentaschen and debate the origins of the term; we swing groggers around without noticing that this seemingly basic English word is nowhere else to be found in our language; we study what the word pur means so we can understand our own story better. The tale of Purim is central to our Jewish story and especially relatable for Jews in the Diaspora, and through language we are able to tie our religious and ethnic practices to our historical roots.

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Things to Think About

  1. For linguists: What distinctive language features might Esther have used when speaking with Mordechai that indicated her Jewish identity?

  2. For theater kids: We don’t have a fun fact for the word shpiel - where do you think it came from, and why is the practice of performing comedic skits so central to Purim?

  3. For anyone: Purim practices are very ingrained in Juhuri culture - what Purim practices are also ingrained in your own culture?

Traditional Purim Foods and Recipes in Jewish Neo-Aramaic
courtesy of Samuel Miller

 ˠzlobiye (flat fry breads eaten with honey)


xâ ˠqâšoğ xmirâ

xâ ˠqâšoğ šakar

xanči məlxâ

xâ pəlge +pyalâ xalwa xanči šaxina

xâ betâ

pəlgət +pyalâ məšxâ

arbâ +pyale qamxâ


xmirâ, šakar, məlxâ, xalwa mruwlu gal-dəğde, mar ˠsamxi xamša dayiqe. dri gaaw beta-inan məšxâ. yâwâš yâwâš dhi gaaw qamxâ, marowetunnâ. bara, lušla. ba-xa-lele ˠmnuxla. mprušla ˠg-qətte zore. pluxlu, qullu. xullu gal-duša ya šakar ˠmoe.

1 tbsp yeast

1 tbsp sugar

A pinch of salt

1.5 cup warm milk

1 egg

.5 cup oil

4 cup flour


Mix the yeast, sugar, salt, and warm milk first, and let it sit for five minutes. Then put in the egg and oil. Slowly add in the flower, mixing it. After that, knead it into dough. Rest dough overnight. Then separate it into small pieces, roll them into balls, flatten them, and fry them. Eat with honey or sugar-syrup.

damwe (stew of cracked wheat and chickpeas)


 âsidâ (soft halva made with flour and egg)

Megillat Esther Ladino
Megillat Esther Ladino 2

The Ladino Five Scrolls [Abraham Asa's Versions of the Hebrew and Aramaic Texts] ed. Moshe Lazar (Labyrinthos 1992)


Yehoyesh translation, recovered by Aharon Varady and published on OpenSiddur
(in text here, and as a downloadable document here)

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Tikkun Purim in Hebrew and in Ladino, from the National Holocaust Museum


Sephardic Purim Customs from the Old World to the Pacific Northwest, via the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington (Haggadot from Istanbul and Livorno (left to right), courtesy of Benjamin Raphael ben Yosef and Solomon Belforte, respectively.)

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