Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old-school women's lib

In 1997 I studied overseas in Jerusalem. While there, I had the privilege of observing and participating in various holidays for the three major world religions. It was a fantastic experience. One of my favorites was the minor Jewish holiday of Purim. Here's my version of the Purim story:

Purim celebrates the delivery of the Jews from annihilation while they were in exile in Persia. The star of the show is Esther, who became queen after the original queen, Vashti, refused the king's order to strip naked in front of the court (technically it's "display her beauty" but considering the patriarchal society, I don't think it's a stretch.) My response would have been a swift right hook. But poor Vashti didn't have the decades of women's liberation movement behind her like I do.

Along comes Esther, handpicked by the king from all the fully-clothed women of the Persian empire. What good ol' king Ahaseurus doesn't know is that Esther is Jewish (oh no, she didn't!) Esther turns out to be pretty good at her queenly duties, discreetly watching out for her peeps with help from her cousin Mordechai, who's on the inside.

Enter big, bad Haman. He's the newly appointed Prime Minister. He gets ticked at Mordechai and plots to kill not just Mordechai but all Jews in the empire. Esther catches word of it and orders the Jews to stop eating (okay, to fast) and pray-- for three days. Then she puts on her best threads and bling to appear before the king. There's a feast with Esther, king Ahaseurus, and big bad Haman, who thinks he's all that.

Then there's another feast. Haman is livin' large as PM and Esther is decked out once again. But sista's got plans. She tells Ahaseurus about Haman's evil scheme to kill all Jews, including herself. The king pops a cap in Haman (technically, he hangs him.) But Haman's extermination order can't be repealed, so Esther and Mordechai write a new law that allows the Jews to defend themselves. Mayhem and blood ensue. Later, Mordechai is appointed one of the king's brothas.