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What Appeals to You about the Book of Esther?

I’m particularly drawn to the Book of Esther.  As I wrote about once, I once got drafted to be the Purim Spieler at a Purim ball, despite being a completely secularized Jew, and I had to study, I had to tackle the book of Esther.  And the Book of Esther, as Rabbi Shorsh said to me, is serendipitously is the book of the assimilated Jews.  It’s a story about, uh, Esther, whatever else Esther is, she’s not Kosher, she doesn’t correspond to any of the rules that move our friends in Williamsburg at all.  She’d be thrown out of the tribe on those grounds alone; and yet, she’s the, the, the local, the little savior of her whole people in exile.  And clearly, one of the things that the book is about is about how Esther and Mordecai, how they struggle to make sense of their role as city Jews, as court Jews and still be true to their… not so much to their faith, but be true to their people, be true to their, to their uh, origins, and at the same time have to function in an assimilated world.  It’s a very beautiful book of writing, very beautiful story and subtly told.

  • Adam Gopnik

    Adam Gopnik is a staff writer for The New Yorker  magazine. His recent books of essays include Paris to the Moon (2000) and Through the Children’s Gate (2006).