The Jewish Holiday of Purim Includes an Adoption Story

On Thursday, March 5, Jews around the world will celebrate the holiday of Purim commemorating their deliverance in the ancient Persian Empire after a plot was arranged to murder the Jews.

Michele Fried

During Purim a story is told about Esther, an orphan, who was adopted by her cousin Mordecai. Esther was the daughter of Avichayil, who was the uncle of Mordecai, which make Mordecai and Esther cousins. Mordecai adopted Esther after his uncle’s death.

Mordecai and Esther provide a beautiful example of respect and care between a father and daughter. We see simultaneously his love and concern for her—
“Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.” Her respect and obedience toward him–“but Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.” Their cooperation while Esther was in the kUntitleding’s favor saved the Jewish nation.

Connected to the story of Esther is the deeper theme of identity—what makes up who we are and how we understand and create our unique identities. While historically, adoptions and the real identities of children were often kept secret, thankfully we now all live in an era where we believe that children have the fundamental right to know who they are and where they came from. We believe that adoption is not something to hide or be ashamed of. And yet, we make choices every day about when, who, where, and how much we reveal of our family’s personal adoption story.