The Fast of Esther (Ta'anit Esther) begins in Israel at this hour and ends after the reading of the Scroll of Esther towards the end of evening prayers Thursday night. The weather in Israel during the fast will be fair and warm. The fast recalls the 2,000-year-old fast of Persian Jews while Queen Esther made a dramatic appeal to King Ahasverus to save the Jews from Haman, the second in command who was hanged by the king after his wicked intentions were uncovered.
Jerusalem residents, who this year will perform different commandments of the Purim holiday over a three-day period because the holiday falls on the Sabbath, also are fasting Thursday and will join the rest of the country in the reading of the scroll at night. Fasting on Friday, just before the Sabbath, usually is prohibited, and the Scroll of Esther also may not be recited on the Sabbath.