Purim Hebron 14. Tevet
Among the special “Purims” which are celebrated by certain Jewish communities on certain days of the year, to commemorate some miracle, there is also a special “Purim” which the Sephardic Jews of Hebron used to celebrate on the fourteenth day of Teveth. The historic details of this happening are hidden in the mists of the remote past. Our story is based on that event.
In 1848, the new Ottoman Pasha of Hebron demanded from the Jews a tax of 50,000 piastres or he would execute some and sell the rest into slavery. According to the legend (and, unfortunately, the historical records of this event are meager), the rabbis declared a community fast for three days – just as in the time of Queen Esther. Additionally, they attempted to tap into the special holiness of the Cave of Machpela, the burial site of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. To deliver the petition that they had composed, the rabbis had to bribe an Arab guard to drop it through a window overlooking the burial site, as the Moslems prohibited Jews from entering the cave.
Legend then describes how, on the night before the ultimatum was due, the Pasha dreamed of three men who demanded from him, on pain of immediate death, the exact sum due. The Pasha, frightened, handed over his gold. The next morning, the Jews found the bag of gold in the synagogue. When the Pasha came to the Jews seeking the tax he had demanded, he was astounded to find the exact bag he had handed over in his dream. Legend then states that the Pasha publicly praised God, declaring that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were surely watching over them, and that he would not attempt to harm the Jews again. Indeed, the Pasha let the Jews keep the money, and promised to never harm the Jews again.
The Sephardic community of Hebron would celebrate this day to mark the great miracle which occurred.