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WHAT IS PURIM?

* The holiday of Purim, which begins tonight, recalls the story told in the biblical book of Esther. In that book, a Jewish girl named Esther wins a beauty contest, marries the King of Persia and ultimately uses her position as queen to save the Jews from an extermination plot hatched by one of the king's advisers, a man named Haman.

* In Jewish synagogues across the world, the entire book will be read aloud tonight. Many children like to dress up on Purim -- girls as Queen Esther, boys as Esther's cousin Mordecai.

* Hamantashen, the triangular cookie baked for the occasion, is supposed to look like Haman's ear. The cookie is filled with poppy seeds or apricot or prune jam.

* TO PARTICIPATE: A few packages are still available at the Lerner Jewish Community Day School. Or people may sign up for next year's delivery. Call the school for more information: 286-5517.

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