The Simcha Gift Shop at Congregation Emanu-El has graggers along with many other Judaica items. The gift shop is located at Congregation Emanu-El at the southern end of the Social Hall.
Gragger, sometimes pronounced grogger, is a noise maker used on Purim when the usual decorum of the Synagogue is disrupted as adults join children to make noise whenever the name of the wicked Haman is mentioned during the reading of the megillah. We are taught that we use graggers during the megillah reading when we hear Haman‘s name, as a way of fullfilling the Biblical comandment to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek” (with the connection that Haman was a descendent of the Amalakites).
The word gragger comes from the Yiddish word for rattle or noise maker (which is thought to come from the Polish word grzégarz). Interestingly the modern English instrumental term for the graggers we commonly use today is “rachet” and the Hebrew term is “ra’ashan” (from the word ra’ash, which means noise).
But where did the tradition of using graggers (or noise makers) during Purim originate?
According to theJewish Encyclopediagraggers originated in thirteenth century France and Germany, when the Rabbis interpreted the commandment about wiping out the memory of the Amalakites to mean, “even from wood and stones.” They therefore: introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out.
By repeatedly smashing the rocks together, children could solve two problems with two stones (so to speak): They could make a ruckus while fulfilling the Biblical injunction to “erase the memory of Amalek.”
Ultimately, however, the stones fell into disuse and the use of a “rattle” was appropriated from the Christian Burning of Judas ritual in which the children employed the crotalus (originally a Catholic liturgical noise making instrument).
The Simcha Gift Shop at Congregation Emanu-El has an array of mezuzot, whimsical, decorative and simple, along with many other Judaica items.
The gift shop is located at Congregation Emanu-El at the southern end of the Social Hall.
A mezuzah (Hebrew: מְזוּזָה “doorpost”; plural: מְזוּזוֹת mezuzot) comprises a piece of parchment called a klaf contained in a decorative case and inscribed with specific Hebrew verses from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21). These verses consist of the Jewish prayer Shema Yisrael, beginning with the phrase: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD (is) our God, the LORD is One”.
In mainstream Rabbinic Judaism, a mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes to fulfill the mitzvah (Biblical commandment) to “write the words of God on the gates and doorposts of your house” (Deuteronomy 6:9). Some interpret Jewish law to require a mezuzah in every doorway in the home except bathrooms (which is not a living space), laundry rooms and closets, if they are too small to qualify as rooms. The klaf parchment is prepared by a qualified scribe (“sofer stam“) who has undergone many years of meticulous training, and the verses are written in black indelible ink with a special quill pen. The parchment is then rolled up and placed inside the case so that the word Shaddai (“Almighty”) can usually be seen on the back of the parchment. After a special blessing is recited, the mezuzah is firmly fixed to the main doorpost of the home (to the right as one enters). It is a custom with some Jews to kiss the mezuzah as they pass it. The wearing of a on a chain around the neck is a practice of relatively recent origin.
The Simcha Gift Shop will open on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 6:30 to 7:00 pm for Judaica sales. Arrive early for Are colonial borders to blame for the violence in the Middle East? talk, and visit our gift shop.