Page 4 - Announcements March 14
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          Each year on the day before Purim we observe the Fast of Esther. The fast commemorates the fact that it was
          the 13th day of Adar, the day before the battles against Haman and his supporters, and that the Jews fasted
          and prayed for success. The fast begins this year at 5:54 am and concludes at 7:29 pm.

           Beginning with mincha on Taanit Esther (and through Purim morning) it is customary to give charitable
          contributions as a symbolic remembrance of the money that was collected from each Jew for the Beit
          HaMikdash. That money is given in the form of a half dollar in commemoration of the half shekel collected
          during Temple times. Since the word “terumah” is mentioned three times in connection with this donation, our
          minhag is to give three half dollars. These coins will be available for you, to be exchanged for a contribution of
          an amount that you feel appropriate. The money which we will collect will be distributed to worthy causes.

          1.  The Reading of the Megilah
           The Megilah, which describes the Purim story, is read twice on Purim. The first reading occurs at night after the
          stars are visible and the second reading during the day. It is obligatory upon all men and women above Bar and
          Bat Mitzvah age to hear the reading of the Megilah both of these times. Accordingly, there are several readings
          in order to accommodate everyone. It is our custom that one person serves as the reader of the Megilah and all
          others in the congregation fulfill their obligation through him. Therefore it is essential for each and every word
          of the Megilah to be properly heard by those listening to the reading. It is for that reason that idle conversation
          is not permitted during the reading of the Megilah and an atmosphere of quiet attentiveness is encouraged. The
          reading of the Megilah at night is preceded by three blessings. Both the reader and the congregation stand for
          the recitation of those blessings. However, the congregation is seated for the actual reading of the Megilah.
          These same blessings are recited before the reading of the Megilah during the day. When listening to the third
          blessing during the day, the blessing of shehechiyanu, we keep in mind that the blessing should apply to the
          other commandments appropriate for the day of Purim as well. Although the custom is to bang and make noise
          during the time when Haman's name is read, the commotion should be restrained so that everyone has a
          chance to hear every word of the Megilah.

          2.  The sending of Gifts - Mishloach Manot
          During the day of Purim, each and every Jew is obligated to send to at least one friend two varieties of food
          needing no further preparation. There are many who practice this custom through the use of a messenger who
          delivers their packages and thus meticulously fulfill the mitzvah of "sending" rather than just giving. The
          sending of such packages is a wonderful way in which to celebrate the happiness and joy of Purim together with
          others in the community. Although a mourner is obligated to send these packages in fulfillment of the mitzvah,
          it is inappropriate to send to a mourner. The package may be sent to other members of the mourner's family

          3.  Gifts to the Poor - Matanot La Evyonim
           On Purim day each and every Jew is obligated to give a charitable contribution to at least two poor people.
          Such contributions should be in accordance with our ability to give. If there are no poor people available on Pu-
          rim day, the money should be set aside and specifically designated to be given to poor people as soon as possi-
          ble. Our Synagogue participates in a campaign on Purim Day with several organizations that distribute money
          to the poor in Israel. You can fulfill the mitzvah of Matanot LaEvyonim through the Jack Hershkowitz Emergency
          Fund on Purim day.

          4.  The Purim Meal - Seudat Purim
          Customarily begun before sundown and continuing into the night following Purim there is an obligation to
          partake in a festive meal.  Perhaps the best known component of this obligation is to celebrate the holiday until
          the point is reached when one can no longer distinguish between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is
          Haman".  If however this state of slight intoxication will lead to a neglecting of commandments and
          inappropriate behavior than one should certainly restrain oneself in that manner of celebration. Al HaNisim is
          included in Birkat HamaZon. It goes without saying that the obligation of personal safety overrides all else and
          therefore it is prohibited to drink in honor of Purim if one will be driving afterwards.
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