March 20, 2011, - 4:45 pm

Purim 2011 & How Jewish U.S. Soldiers Celebrated in WWII

By Debbie Schlussel

Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim, which began yesterday evening.  To all my Jewish friends and readers, I wish you a Happy Purim.  To all my non-Jewish readers,  as I note each year, Purim is kind of like a mix of the Jewish version of St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, but a whole lot more spiritual and meaningful, as it marks how G-d through Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, saved the Jewish people from destruction at the hands of Xerxes I, who at the time was essentially the king of the universe ruling over 100 kingdoms and lands.  Xerxes (Achashverosh, in Hebrew), a foolish king, took the advice of his evil, anti-Semitic advisor, Haman, and signed a decree for destruction, which was eventually overcome when Esther let her husband, Xerxes, know she was a Jew and beseeched him to stop the destruction.

WWII Jewish Welfare Board Purim Postcard Sent Home By U.S. Soldiers

Last year, I posted the Purim postcard, below, from a Jewish U.S. soldier observing the holiday while fighting in World War I.  Many U.S. soldiers fighting with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe sent that home.   This year, I post the first one, above, from a Jewish U.S. soldier celebrating Purim during World War II.  The JWB symbol stands for Jewish Welfare Board, a Jewish organization that helped American soldiers of all faiths, providing them stationery, postcards, shaving kits, games, meals and drinks, etc.  Many Jewish U.S. soldiers sent postcards like the one above home during the war.  (You won’t see any Ramadan or Eid Al-Fitr postcards like this because Muslims are interlopers.  They didn’t fight our wars, and don’t have this long history that Jewish Americans do of fighting in ever war, including the Revolutionary War.)


WWI Jewish Welfare Board Purim Postcard Sent Home By U.S. Soldiers

As I note each year, I love the holiday because it’s got everything that’s politically incorrect, from a worldwide beauty pageant Xerxes holds to find his wife, to the reported back story that Xerxes beheaded–and definitely dumped–his first wife, Vashti, because she wouldn’t come to his party to exhibit her beauty to the men in attendance.  The King was advised to do something about it because otherwise, his advisors told him, wives throughout his vast kingdom would disobey their husbands as Queen Vashti did.  There’s also Zeresh, the shrewish, henpecking wife of the villain Haman.  I imagine her to be something like Hillary Clinton, pre-Clinton White House.

And there are a lot of other great things about the holiday and the story behind it that are so fascinating, including many parallels to today:  a foolish but powerful king who then was Xerxes, but today is Obama;  and a sworn enemy of the Jewish people whose descendants are the Muslims we face today.  Sadly, there’s a dearth of Esthers or Mordechais and too many Islamo-pandering masses of my fellow co-religionist Jews who would have sold Esther and Mordechai down the river to get a smile from Haman.

On Purim, we hear the Scroll of Esther read twice and use noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is read.  We also eat hamantaschen or ozney haman–triangular pastries with fruit and/or other fillings (like chocolate), meant to represent the pointy, creepy ears of Haman.  And no, contrary to Islamic allegations, we don’t use non-Jewish blood to make them.  And it’s a commandment to give money/gifts to poor people, as well as gift baskets or bags with at least two ready to eat foods in them.  Finally, there is the commandment to eat a big meal.  On the holiday, we are supposed to get so drunk that we cannot tell the difference between the hero, Mordechai, and the villain, Haman, but few people actually partake in that because of obvious health, behavioral, and driving reasons.  It is a holiday of joy, happiness, and celebration that the Jewish people survived a decree of certain destruction.


Purim Hamantashen Pastry, Queen Esther, Tomb of Mordechai/Esther

Here’s my Debbie’s Notes version of the Purim story, from a previous post on Purim:

King Xerxes I, in the 5th Century B.C., was King of Persia, though he ruled most of the world, as his kingdom consisted of 127 states and provinces. He had a beautiful wife, Vashti, who refused to show up to his big, boozed-up party with the Kingdom’s men. He wanted to show her off, but she didn’t want to leave her own party.

He was advised that he should get rid of her (some say she was beheaded), or else all of the wives throughout his kingdom would take it as an example not to obey their husbands. So, Xerxes gets rid of her and held a giant beauty pageant throughout his entire kingdom (the first Miss Universe pageant). Eventually, he chose the the beautiful, Jewish Esther as his queen. Esther hid her Judaism from the king and her uncle, Mordechai, once overheard a plot to kill the king, which he exposed. For that, he was honored by the King.

Haman, the king’s trusted advisor, hated Mordechai because he would not bow down to Haman (he would only bow down to G-d). Haman was henpecked by his ambitious wife, Zeresh, who was kind of like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. And he had ten sons who were equally pushy.

Soon, Mordechai found out that Haman wanted to annihilate the entire Jewish population of the world (and hang Mordechai), and he got King Xerxes to sign a decree ordering that. The Jews fasted and mourned over their impending destruction, and Mordechai beseeched Esther to appeal to the King to save the Jews.

One night, Esther approached the King (against protocol because only the King could summon the queen, not vice versa–and she could have been beheaded for this; it wasn’t exactly the days of Hillary Clinton wearing the pants). She invited him to a dinner, where she told him that she was Jewish and of the plans to annihilate her people. King Xerxes was angry when he learned of this and had Haman hung on the gallows prepared for Mordechai. He also agreed to try to stop this and arm the Jewish people so they could respond to the decree for their destruction and live.

The holiday is called Purim because Haman literally conducted a lottery to decide in which month to mass murder the Jews.

And the story is absolutely true. While some wish to believe it isn’t, the tombs of Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, are tourist sites marketed by the Ahmadinejad government in modern day Hamadan, Iran (pictured above; Esther is called “Khashayarsh,” there). Yup, gotta love those Iranians–they wanna destroy the Jews just like Haman did, but they continue to use our history to make a buck.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s why we gotta remember our history, lest we repeat it. Attention, Obama-voting Jews . . . .

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19 Responses

Happy Purim to Debbie and all other Jewish readers. 🙂

JeffE on March 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Often U.S. Jewish Americans in the military were not allowed to celebrate the holidays. Anti-Semitic Officers often assigned the worst duties to the Jewish soldiers on the Jewish holidays.

I love America with all my heart, and I support the military, but I will not whitewash the wrongdoings that occured during WWII against her fellow citizen-soldiers.

Jonathan Grant on March 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Happy Purim, y’all!

I LOVE hamantashen. Very much. I like to introduce it to peeps who have no idea for what it is (non Jews). They always find it yummy.

Well, I can’t have hamantashen this lenten season as it falls under what I gave up for lent, but this year, my passion for lent has been 100% inspired by orthodox jews…who, due to their faith and tradition, really know how to forego delights and creature comforts. I’m so inspired by them!:D

Skunky on March 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Happy Purim to you, too, Debbie! Thanks for posting this.

Leigh Harrison on March 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Debbie that Ed guy wrote “From Ed”? Good thing they invented Hallmark. Btw please blog about all the celebrities that you know to be anti-Semitic, misogynistic or secret drunkards. That J Howard report was priceless, and I bet that other guy is hearing about it. Although it was 20 years ago, having those two low lifes intimidate and harass you like that still shouldn’t go unmentioned. And I’m sure you’re still pretty and more than capable of attracting unwanted attention.

A1 on March 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

“…the reported back story that Xerxes beheaded–and definitely dumped–his first wife, Vashti…”

Which saying best applies?

“The more things change the more they stay the same”.

“There’s nothing knew under the sun”.

Happy Purim!

CornCoLeo on March 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm


    “There’s nothing NEW under the sun”.

    CornCoLeo on March 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I always like to read informative pieces like the one that I just read here. They broaden my horizons, providing that they are accurate and truthful, which I suspect that yours is for the most part, but not entirely. Your assertions that Muslims haven’t fought in any of this country’s wars isn’t strictly true.

My purpose here isn’t to embarrass you, but rather to refresh your memory, so as to enhance your credibility on this issue.

Many Muslims (mostly Saudian Arabians) fought (and died) alongside American, British, French and Canadian troops during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and contingents of Muslims fought with the French during World Wars I & II, as well as in South Vietnam long before the USA relieved the French in southeast Asia. (The French Foreign Legion has had a Muslim contingent since the late 1800’s, a cavalry unit that became a mechanized armor unit, as I recall.) The Turks have been NATO Allies since the end of WW II, also, and they fought and died in LARGE
numbers alongside Americans in Korea, also. In fact, as a deterrant to the Soviets and at great risk to themselves, the Turks allowed us to install ICBM’s in their country, also.

You had a good piece. It wasn’t necessary for you to try to
glorify Jews by creating a false and misleading contrast between them and Muslims. In fact, it has been only since the Carter Administration that many, though certainly not all Muslims have become a pain in the ass to this country, and even during the Reagan Administration and GHW Bush Administration relations were improving again in most Middle Eastern countries until the Clinton Administration set relations back 10 years, which they tried to rectify by siding with Muslims in Kosovo to the detrement of western Europe; e.g., until the Clinton Administration interfered. murdering civilians from 25,000 feet, Slobadon Milosevitch’s forces were trying (successfully) to prevent a Muslim invasion of eastern Europe through the Balkans.

Otherwise, happy Purim y’all.

Dianne & Brian on March 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm

The 5th and 4th Centuries before the Common Era under the Persians were lost centuries. The last book of the Jewish Bible closes with the command of King Cyrus to the Jews to return to the Land Of Israel.

Unlike the Greeks, the Jews found little to object to the Persian rule and the Jews and the Persian Zoroastrians for the most part had a similar spiritual outlook. Indeed, the Book Of Esther itself shows the Persians gave the Jews the writ to defend themselves from their enemies and Haman is described as a descendant of the evil Amalekites.

Such happy times under foreign rule have been rare for Jews and the reason they were rarely sovereign is their country had the unfortunate circumstance of lying in the path of every
conquering power in history. Jewish sovereignty today is the result of a unique set of historical circumstances that would never arise today.

And Purim reminds Jews that anti-Semitism is not going to ever disappear from the world in which they live.

NormanF on March 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm

On the holiday, we are supposed to get so drunk that we cannot tell the difference between the hero, Mordechai, and the villain, Haman,but few people actually partake in that because of obvious health, behavioral, and driving reasons.

…I’d like to do my part to help out those who can’t do as required above:).

Keep up the great work Ms. Schlussel, as always, a pleasure to read and learn Ma’am.

Jew Lover on March 20, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Grant Patient Services @ 5:39 pm

“Whitewash”? Get a grip and get real.

Millions of gentiles fought (and died) to liberate Europeans (inluding inhabitants of concentration camps) in that war, saving the lives of millions of Europeans (including inhabitants of concentration camps), and Americans both prior to and during the Marshall Plan fed, clothed, provided medical care and rehabilitated MILLIONS of Europeans (including inhabitants of concentration camps) …., and now you have the unmitigated gall to get petty about that one issue, which could be, for all me know, unfair criticism of distinguished U.S. Army officers, who simply treated malingerers approp-riately.

Suffice to say, you are an ingrate and you aren’t even rational. (The word, delusional, comes to mind, too.) Sheesh!

Dianne & Brian on March 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    To Dianne and Brian:

    You show your bigotry by referring to Jewish soldiers as malingers. You state that millions of American soldiers fought to liberate Europe. Yes, and Jews were among those soldiers.You also call me an “ingrate” as if I or my family were saved by the Americans? I am an American, you a-hole, and my family’s roots go back well over 150 years here. Additionally, the war in Europe was not fought to save Jews, but because Hitler declared war in America. In fact, Roosevelt went out of his way not to save Jews, including not allowing any refugees from the ship The St. Louis to enter America, and by not bombing railroads taking Jews to the concentration camps. Such a bombing would have saved American lives, as some of those Jews were being used as slave laborers for the war effort.

    Malingers? You think the Jews were malingers? You are a jackass who would not be fit to clean the latrine my ancestors used. One of my uncles received 15 citations, and five purple hearts, fighting all the way from D-Day to Germany. Another uncler served in the China/Burma/India theatre in intelligence, something you would know nothing about. My father served in the Army Air Corp as a mechanical engineer,and the last uncle served during the Korean war. Any of them would have flattened an anti-Semite like you with one punch, and often had to do so.

    Jonathan E. Grant on March 21, 2011 at 9:21 am

      Taking my words out of context and twisting them in an ill-conceived and lame attempt to justify your own inappropriate comments …, raising irrelevant and extraneous issues as smoke, mirrors and a diversion …, and accusing me of being a “bigot” aren’t valid arguments, Jonathan.

      (Never mind that calling me a “bigot” is a sleazy and cowardly cop-out to compensate for the fact that you do NOT have a valid argument.)

      My previous comments neither maligned Jews, nor detracted from the value of Ms. Schlussel’s piece. Any rational person will recognize that I made a series of valid points. Your incoherent rantings and senseless blathering showed, however, that you are neither rational enough, nor man enough to own up to the fact that YOUR OWN comments were over-the-top, quite inappropriate, irrational, extremely irresponsible and way, WAY out of line.

      BTW, I meant that in the nicest way. So no hard feelings, I hope. Now, y’all have a nice day, ya hear.

      Dianne & Brian on March 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

haPurim Sameach. Drink one for me – I hadn’t had a drop for years.

The Reverend Jacques on March 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Purim Sameach to you Debbie. Thanks for sharing.

Naomi R on March 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

Wait – I always thought that Hilary was one-of-a-kind. Now you’re telling me there might be more of them?

Tanstaafl on March 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Hillary won’t be with us for much longer. She is already in the last stages of morphing into Madeline Albright. It’s spooky. Glenn Beck warned us of these kinds of developments.

    Dianne & Brian on March 22, 2011 at 3:33 am

Happy Purim!

Michelle on March 21, 2011 at 10:39 am

What a great article!! Gives me another great reason to be proud to be Jewish and a reminder of how G-d has blessed us and protected us from countless enemies determined to destroy us. Happy Purim to us all!!

Eric Gunderson on February 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

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