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    Eli Bartholomew Jacobs, age 3, of Putnam Valley, New York, was excited
because he was going to a Purim festival.  Mom, Dad, and Sally also looked forward to
the holiday because during Purim you get to dress in colorful costumes and wear masks.  
   Eli was thinking about what to wear when he remembered the biblical story of Esther,
which explains why Jews celebrate Purim.

   Long ago, a wicked advisor, named Haman, covinced the king that he should destroy
the Jewish people.  Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai were Jews who uncovered a
plot against the king and saved the king's life.  The king rewarded them by saving the
lives of the Jewish people.
   To honor Mordecai, the king ordered Haman to parade the royal horse through the
streets while Mordecai rode proudly.

   During Purim there are plays, gifts and games.  There are always treats like
hamantaschen, three-cornered cakes filled with fruit or poppy seeds.  Mom, Dad, and
looked forward to eating these special Purim treats.
   Since Eli couldn't decide what to wear to the Purim celebration, he thought, "What
about dressing like hero from Hanukkah?"

   In the Hanukkah story, a non-Jewish king named Antiochus would not let Jews worhip
God in their Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  Mattathias, together with his son, Judah,
organized a group of freedom fighters called the Maccabees.  They fought and won a war
against the king's powerful army.  
   "Maybe I could go to the party as Judah the Maccabee?" thought Eli.

   After the war, the Maccabees wanted to rekindle the light of the menorah in the Holy
Temple.  They found a small jar of oil, enough for just one day.  Miraculously, the oil
burned for eight days and nights.
   Eli knew that Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting the menorah.  One
candle is lit on the first night, then two the second evening and so on until all eight
candles are burning brightly.

   During Hanukkah friends and families exchange gifts.  There are delicious treats like
potato pancakes, called latkes, and jelly donuts.  We play games with a four-sided top
called a dreidel and receive Hanukkah gelt.
   "Hanukkah is a lot of fun, but I still can't decide what to wear to the Purim carnival,"
thought Eli.

   "Maybe I could dress like Moses," Eli thought.
   Mom, Dad, and Sally had told him the Passover story of how Moses freed the Jewish
people from slavery in Egypt.  Moses led the people of Israel across the sea to the desert
where they traveled for 40 years.  Finally, they returned to the Holy Land.

   On the night of Passover, families gather for the Seder.  They read the Haggadah, a
story that tells of the exodus from Egypt.
   The people of Israel left Egypt in such a hurry that there was no time to wait until the
bread dough could rise.  That's why during Passover Jewish people eat unleavened
bread, called matzo.
   They also display special foods like a roasted bone, a roasted egg, horseradish,
parsley and a tasty apple dip, called charoses.

   Eli knew that during the Seder, the youngest child asks "the four questions" and
everyone answers.  They eat a delicious meal and drink four cups of wine.  The leader of
the Seder hides a piece of matzo, called the afikoman.  The child who finds the afikoman
gets a reward.

   Eli thought again about which costume to wear to the Purim celebration.  All of a
sudden, he had the answer and started to work on the best costume ever!
   Can Mom, Dad, and Sally guess what he will be for Purim?  Will you tell us, Eli?

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