Purim Mask: Wicked Haman, Queen Esther, King Ahasuerus. By Mimi Gross, 1964. (Photo credit: The Jewish Museum, New York)

Temple Sinai Celebrates The Art Of Purim

Though it dates to the fifth century BCE, the story of Purim is a perennial inspiration for artists who address biblical subject matter.

Purim: The Four Faces of Esther.
By Robert Indiana, 1967.
(Photo credit: The Jewish Museum, New York)

Told in the Book of Esther (Megillah Esther), the Purim story commemorates the deliverance of Jews in Persia from the annihilation planned by Haman, the trusted yet evil advisor of King Ahasuerus. The heroes of the story are Esther, a member of the King’s harem, and her uncle Mordecai, who refused to bow down to Haman, thus incurring his wrath. King Ahasuerus favored Esther and made her queen, unaware she was Jewish. Upon learning of Haman’s evil plot to destroy the Jews, Mordecai entreated Esther to speak to the king on behalf of her people. After three days of fasting, Esther went to the king unsummoned — a brazen act punishable by death — and in so doing, saved the Jewish people from annihilation. King Ahasuerus sentenced Haman and his ten sons to death.

Here are a few examples of contemporary artists who have created works of art about Purim. With its powerful narrative about bravery in the face of persecution, the Purim story continues to resonate deeply today. May we all be inspired by Esther’s example.

—Submitted by Adrianne Rubin, Ph.D, of Temple Sinai.

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