About 40 WesternU students, faculty and staff celebrated the Purim holiday during WesternU’s Hillel club Purim Extravaganza Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at Compatriots Hall on campus.

Purim is the Hebrew word for lots. It refers to the plot of Haman to draw lots to determine which Jews to annihilate first and the desire to massacre all the Jews. Haman was adviser to Ahashverosh, King of Persia.

The Purim festival is held each spring, on the 14th or 15th day of Adar of the Jewish calendar (which fell on March 19 this year), to commemorate the defeat of Haman’s plot to massacre the Jews as chronicled in the book of Esther.

Esther, one of the king’s wives and herself a Jew, which she hid from the king, saved the Jewish people from Haman’s “”lots”” plan by informing it to the king.

Participants of WesternU’s Purim Extravaganza received ice cream and hamantashens, a three-cornered pastry traditionally filled with poppy seed and many other different fillings representing Haman’s hat. In another Purim custom, a Tzedakah can was also circulated, which provided an opportunity to give charity.

WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, and his wife, Harriet, spoke of their Jewish ancestry and expressed how proud they are of having an active Hillel club.

Richard Sugerman, PhD, professor of Anatomy, COMP Administration, started the Hillel club in 1981. He is currently an adviser for the club along with Dr. Stuart Mann, College of Optometry’s Chief of Pediatric Services and an assistant professor. Sugerman was excited to have such a wonderful turnout and said this Hillel club event was the best he’s seen in about 20 years.

The students on the Hillel board who helped organize this event are: Co-President Rozalin Rabieian, DO ’14, Co-President Sheila Solymani, PharmD ’13, Vice President Talia Tabarok, PharmD ’14, Treasurer Yasaman Rahimian, PharmD ’13 and Secretary Channelle Khoubian, PharmD ’13.

“”It’s our community – Judaism is about being united, having hope and being together,”” Rabieian said. “”Through this club we can better ourselves, our community and our surroundings and bring hope and goodness to our environment.””

For more information about Hillel club, e-mail HillelClub@westernu.edu.