Local, unique Purims

Haman had many admirers who tried to emulate his scheme and didn't succeed, calling for other Purim celebrations.

Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, | updated: 08:05

 Raymond Apple
Raymond Apple

Many communities that escaped from danger instituted local Purims to mark their deliverance.

Books about the history of Purim often narrate these events, but they do not always explain that the antisemites responsible for imperilling the Jews frequently deliberately modelled themselves on Haman.

An example is a German baker, Vincenz Fettmilch, who after announcing in 1614 that he was the new Haman, went on to foment attacks on the Jews of Worms and then Frankfort. The Jews were saved because of the intervention of the local governor, who, fearing that the riots would get out of hand, sent in his troops to suppress the attacks.

Like the original Haman, Fettmilch was hanged, and the Frankfort community proclaimed the institution of Vincenz Purim.

These are some other famous local Purims:
• The Gunpowder Purim. In December, 1804, there were terrible explosions at the gunpowder factories situated near the Jewish section of Vilna. Amongst those who survived were the Danzig family from whom emanated one of the great compilations of Jewish law.

• The Snow Purim observed by the Jews of Tunis to mark a huge snow storm in 1891 in which one of the synagogues provided food and shelter for many people. When the storm abated and people could go home, the synagogue roof collapsed but (Baruch Hashem) no-one was hurt.

• The Window Purim which emanated from Hevron in 1741. The local authorities had imposed a massive tax on the Jewish community. The Jews, unable to find the necessary money, assembled to pray, and the next morning a lad found on the synagogue window sill a bag full of money which was used to pay the ransom and save the community.