• Air Force Chaplain, (Capt.) Raphael Berdugo, left, chants the book of Esther from the Megilla, a handwritten parchment scroll. He is assisted by Chaplain (Maj.) Henry Soussan. The reading of the book of Esther is central to the holiday.

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    Air Force Chaplain, (Capt.) Raphael Berdugo, left, chants the book of Esther from the Megilla, a handwritten parchment scroll. He is assisted by Chaplain (Maj.) Henry Soussan. The reading of the book of Esther is central to the holiday.

  • Millie Grauer, left, and Stephanie Alexander, both civilian employees with the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, make noise with a special Purim 'gragger' to drown out the name of the evil Haman, the villain of the Purim story.

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    Millie Grauer, left, and Stephanie Alexander, both civilian employees with the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, make noise with a special Purim 'gragger' to drown out the name of the evil Haman, the villain of the Purim story.

  • Chaplain (1st Lt.) David Ruderman, left, a student at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, and Bezalel Cooper, a former Marine, follow the reading of the Purim story during an observance March 8.

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    Chaplain (1st Lt.) David Ruderman, left, a student at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, and Bezalel Cooper, a former Marine, follow the reading of the Purim story during an observance March 8.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- On March 8, Jews all over the world celebrated the feast of Purim, the most joyous holiday in the religious calendar.

In honor of Purim, a joint observance was held at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center. According to Jewish religious law, the entire text of the book of Esther has to be read from a handwritten parchment scroll. The Hebrew text was chanted by Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Raphael Berdugo, and the ceremony was attended by several students and cadre of the Army, Air Force and Navy chaplain schools. The ceremony was followed by a Se'uda, a festive meal, complete with Hamantaschen, special triangular cookies shaped like turbans.

Purim celebrates the Jews' rescue from the plot of the nefarious and evil Haman, a high officer of the Persian Empire, and adviser to King Achashverosh, ruler of Persia. Haman plots the genocide of the Jews of Persia, but in what turns out to be an interesting twist, the Jews are saved by a non-miraculous miracle.

The Book of Esther, which tells the story of Purim, differs from other biblical writings in that it does not mention the name of God. The message of the Book of Esther is that God is present even when we cannot feel Him with us or see specific evidence of miracles.

Page last updated Thu March 15th, 2012 at 11:47