Purim, celebrated annually on March 20 and 21, remembers the salvation of Jewish people in fourth century Persia. According to the commemorated story, Haman, the appointed prime-minister of the Persian Empire of the time, convinced the king to exterminate all Jews. After the king’s new queen reveals her nationality to be of Jewish stock, the king has Haman hanged and stops the killing of the Jews, granting them the right to defend themselves against those who wish to do harm against them. This day of deliverance is now a day of feasting and rejoicing in the Jewish community. 

Rabbi Berel Slavaticki and Rochy Slavaticki welcomed the UNH community to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim at the UNH & Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center on Main Street in Durham on Thursday, March 21. 

At the celebration last Thursday, Rabbi Berel read from the Megillah, which is the scroll of Esther. The festive meal was punctuated by lively vocal interactions and the exchange of food and gifts. Purim emphasizes the importance of Jewish unity and friendship. 

In attendance were members of the UNH community as well as the seacoast. One of the students in attendance was senior political science major Lauren Winer. 

 “I am Jewish and actually on the board of UNH’s Hillel,” Winer said. “Hillel and Chabad put on this event for Purim this year. Purim is one of the less serious of the Jewish holidays, it is meant for fun and celebration, which I think was exemplified in the event. It was fun! Chabad always does a great job at bringing in the Jewish community of Durham together to celebrate the holidays. The Jewish community at UNH and in Durham is quite small, but we always are seeing new faces pop up at events of people who want to support the community.” 

According to the leadership of the Chabad Jewish Center, it is a home where everyone is welcome, regardless of affiliation, level of knowledge or observance. The warm and welcoming environment was evident Thursday night as all age groups attended, from senior citizens to UNH students to families with small children. Many of the costumes were reminiscent of the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. 

The Chabad Jewish Center, located at 72-1 Main Street in Durham (behind Subway), offers holiday programs, special needs assistance, adult education, Kiddush sponsorship, bar/bat mitzvah classes and a host of other services. 

Rabbi Berel Slavaticki is originally from Belgium, and has spent several years volunteering to aid the development of Jewish communities across the world. Rochy Slavaticki is from Brooklyn, NY and has a degree in special education.