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Hebron Purim

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JewishTreats.org

Jewish Treats presents to you another local Purim, a day on which one small community commemorates a particularly life-saving event. Purim Hebron, also known as “Window Purim.” Sadly, the community that initially experienced the events of Hebron Purim no longer exists, as the Jews of Hebron suffered so greatly from a pogrom in 1929 that the city was, for many years, virtually bereft of any Jewish population.

The post-biblical Jewish community of Hebron had a history going back to the expulsion from Spain (1492). In 1848, the new Ottoman Pasha of Hebron demanded from the Jews a tax of 50,000 piastres or he would execute some and sell the rest into slavery. According to the legend (and, unfortunately, the historical records of this event are meager), the rabbis declared a community fast for three days – just as in the time of Queen Esther. Additionally, they attempted to tap into the special holiness of the Cave of Machpela, the burial site of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. To deliver the petition that they had composed, the rabbis had to bribe an Arab guard to drop it through a window overlooking the burial site, as the Moslems prohibited Jews from entering the cave.

Legend then describes how, on the night before the ultimatum was due, the Pasha dreamed of three men who demanded from him, on pain of immediate death, the exact sum due. The Pasha, frightened, handed over his gold. The next morning, the Jews found the bag of gold in the synagogue. When the Pasha came to the Jews seeking the tax he had demanded, he was astounded to find the exact bag he had handed over in his dream. Legend then states that the Pasha publicly praised God, declaring that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were surely watching over them, and that he would not attempt to harm the Jews again. Indeed, the Pasha let the Jews keep the money, and promised to never harm the Jews again.

While many mark this event on the 14th of Tevet, others place it on the 5th of Kislev.

Copyright © 2012 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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