The Purim Story is a new Megillah retold and introduced by Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (KI) in Elkins Park, PA published by Tablo Press (2021). Written for use at home or in the synagogue, The Purim Story features new, original artwork by Marlene D’Orazio Adler. Written as a family friendly text, The Purim Story presents an easy to understand version of the “Scroll of Esther” and includes beautiful illustrations commissioned for this presentation that aid in the telling of this story of peril and survival. It also has a Glossary of special terms related to the story and holiday of Purim.
Rabbi Sussman is a well-known historian of the American Jewish experience, a prolific author and a popular speaker. In addition to his congregational work, he is a Professor of Jewish History and Past Chair of the Board of Governors at Gratz College. Sussman has taught at Princeton, SUNY Binghamton and Hunter College. He lives in Center City Philadelphia.
Adler is a multifaceted, widely exhibited artist and art educator. She is Chair of the KI Temple Judea Museum Artists Collaborative. She is inspired by nature and spirituality and often uses symbols to convey her ideas. Together, Sussman and Adler examined numerous historic Megillot to prepare for this project. Additionally, Adler immersed herself in the study of traditional Persian art. Adler lives in Glenside, PA.
According to Sussman, “there is a need for a new presentation of the Megillah precisely at this very moment because of the rise of anti-Semitism. The holiday of Purim has helped Jews navigate the emotional stress of anti-Semitism for centuries.” “Purim,” Sussman added, “is also fun. It’s our most joyous holiday and in these challenging times, it is very important to find ways to celebrate Judaism and affirm our heritage!”
Commenting on her own work, Adler adds that her “intention was to capture the story of Purim in the style of Persian art. The words and images transport your imagination back in time and celebrate the heroic deeds of Queen Esther.”
Rita Rosen Poley, Director of the KI Temple Judea Museum summed up The Purim Story by noting that “in this new imagining of the ancient story of Purim, two contemporary voices, one an accomplished artist and the other an accomplished story-teller, join together to create a megillah that is relevant for the 21st century experience and is also a collectible object of beauty.”
In addition to a book format, a special edition of The Purim Story was created as an actual scroll for use in a synagogue service. The scroll also has been made into a PowerPoint for instructional and liturgical purposes.