The story of Esther is a classic tale of good versus evil—where the villain, Haman seeks to wipe out our hero, Mordecai and the rest of the Jewish people living within the Persian Empire during the reign of King Ahasuerus. Through a miraculous act of God a Jewish orphan named Esther saves the entire nation.
Purim is a Jewish feast celebrating this riveting story. Each year families gather together, they dress in costume, they eat delicacies, and most importantly they retell this story of God’s faithfulness to His people. Mordecai himself started this ancient tradition.
“And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.”—Esther 9.20-22
At My Olive Tree we love to celebrate, and the feast of Purim is no exception. In fact, this is one of our favorite Jewish holidays, as it is an important reminder of why we do the work that we do. We hope your family will celebrate this year’s Purim festivities by sowing into the nation of Israel. Stand with her by planting a tree, or by making a generous donation to our work with foster children or Holocaust survivors. Support needy families of the Israeli Defense force, and much more.
“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’”—Esther 4.13-16
As we prepare for this special time of thanksgiving and celebration, we leave you with this traditional Purim recipe. Hamantaschen is made to resemble the tri-cornered hat that Haman wore. As we take a bite out of Hamantaschen, let it be a reminder of this wonderful story, and may we say to the nation of Israel…
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”—Numbers 6.24-26
Makes 20 to 30 cookies, depending on size
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To assemble the cookies:
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 cups of filling, such as fruit jam, Nutella, poppy seed filling, or thick compotes
Stir together the flour and salt, and set aside. With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, zest, and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Add the flour, a half a cup at a time, mixing gently. The dough should look crumbly, but stay together. Use your hands to form it into a smooth disk, then wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together the egg and milk, then set aside.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. (If necessary, divide the dough in two and keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic until ready to use.) Use a 2 to 3 inch diameter biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out round circles, and use a spatula to transfer the rounds to the prepared cookie sheet.
On each round, spoon a 1/2 teaspoon of your desired filling. Lift up 3 sides and pinch the corners together to make a triangular 3-cornered hat shape, leaving the center of the filling exposed. Make sure you have thoroughly pinched the corners. If you’re having trouble, you can moisten the surface of the dough lightly with the egg mixture.
Make sure there’s about an inch of space between each cookie, then lightly brush the pastry with the egg wash.
Bake until lightly golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely before serving; overeager eaters will find themselves rewarded with scorching hot filling!
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.