Mizel Museum Announces Newest Acquisition Just in Time for Purim

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Siona Benjamin's "Esther Megillah" Newest Addition to Museum's Permanent Exhibit

Detail of Esther Megillah by Siona Benjamin

Detail of Esther Megillah by Siona Benjamin

Benjamin’s Esther Megillah is just one of the new additions and enhancements that will be made to Mizel Museum’s permanent exhibit this year. It will enhance both the beauty and depth of the exhibit.

Just in time for the Jewish festival of Purim, the Mizel Museum has acquired Esther Megillah, hand-painted and scribed by Siona Benjamin, a New York-based painter who was raised Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. Benjamin's Esther Megillah is inspired by both Indian miniature paintings as well as Jewish and Christian illuminated manuscripts. She was commissioned to paint the megillah using influences from Indian and Mughal miniature paintings. The megillah also contains iconography from her own paintings, to make it unique, personal and contemporary.

The Megillat Esther and the Festival of Purim
The original Book of Esther (Megillat Esther) is one of the Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). The story of Purim is told in the Megillat Esther and is written by the heroes Esther and Mordechai. This year, Purim begins at sundown on Saturday, February 23 and ends at sundown, Sunday, February 24.

Esther was a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia. She was raised by her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther his queen. But the king did not know that Esther was Jewish, because her cousin Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity. More about Siona Benjamin at http://www.artsiona.com

The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people.

Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death. Esther and her people fasted for three days, then Esther went into the king. She told him of Haman's plot against her people, and the King ordered that the Jewish people be saved. Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai and the Jewish people. Queen Esther had saved her people.

The centerpiece for the joyous celebration of Esther’s triumph is the reading of the Megillat Esther twice during the festival of Purim, in addition to a variety of other vibrant customs.

“Benjamin’s Esther Megillah is just one of the new additions and enhancements that will be made to Mizel Museum’s permanent exhibit this year,” said Georgina Kolber, Curator. “This Megillah enhances both the beauty and depth of the exhibit, and provides new opportunities for guided tours and educational programming.”

The purchase of the Megillah for inclusion in Mizel Museum’s permanent exhibit, 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks, was made possible by members of Denver community, including Corrine & Avi Brown, Sarah Edgell & Paul Brokering, Helen & Morris Ginsburg, Arlene & Barry Hirschfeld, Nevet Arts, Penny & Perry Nisson, Bea & Herschel Premack, Ellen Premack & Charlie Hauber, Shannon & Mike Robinson, Estelle Meskin & Lew Shapiro, Jerry & Debi Tepper, Sandy Vinnik and Joan & Abbott Wallis.

About the Mizel Museum
The Mizel Museum is Denver’s Jewish art, culture and history museum. Exhibits, events and educational programs offer interactive experiences that promote community, understanding and multiculturalism. The Museum is located at 400 S. Kearney Street, Denver, where visitors can tour the permanent exhibit, 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks, a dynamic journey through art, artifacts and digital media that narrates and illuminates Jewish history and culture. For more information visit http://www.mizelmuseum.org or call 303-394-9993.

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