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Religion | SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FILE / MARGARET RAMIREZ

Synagogues to Hold Purim Services, Plays, Carnivals

March 18, 2000

This weekend, Jews celebrate the liveliest holiday on their religious calendar, the festival of Purim. The holiday commemorates Queen Esther's rescue of the Persian Jews from genocide plotted by Haman, the king's chief minister. Haman sought to destroy all Jews after Esther's uncle, Mordecai, refused to prostrate himself before him. Esther and Mordecai collaborated to defeat Haman, and he was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

Synagogues generally begin Purim observances with readings from the Megillah--the Book of Esther--and prayer services. Carnivals are usually held, with children dressing up in costumes to resemble the characters in the story. Purim begins at sundown Monday.

Among the celebrations planned:

* Stephen S. Wise Temple in the Sepulveda Pass will hold its Megillah reading at 10 a.m. Sunday, followed by the annual Purim carnival. The carnival will include rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, arts and crafts and a barbecue. The synagogue is at 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive in Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561.

* Temple Ner Tamid in Downey will celebrate the holiday Sunday at 10 a.m. with a Purim play, reading of the Megillah and a costume parade. After the procession will be a Purim carnival and craft bazaar with games, food and music. The Purim service begins Monday at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend in costume, if they wish. The synagogue is at 10629 Lakewood Blvd. in Downey. (562) 861-9276.

* On Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., B'nai David-Judea invites women of all ages and faiths to participate in a reading of the Book of Esther and a commemoration of the impact of women on Jewish history. A Purim play and refreshments will follow the Megillah reading. The event is sponsored by Shirat Chanah, B'nai David-Judea's women's prayer group, which meets once a month for Shabbat afternoon services. B'nai David-Judea is at 8906 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 276-9269.

* Thousands are also expected to log onto a new Web site for a virtual Purim celebration at http://www.VirtualPurim.com. The Brooklyn-based Chabad Lubavitch unveiled the site this week. It includes an explanation of Purim, prayers, recipes, songs and commentary.

CONFERENCES

Mental illness among the poor and homeless will be the focus of a panel discussion at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Participants will include Bishop Frederick Borsch; JoAnn Cory, homeless ministry supervisor at All Saints; and Barbara Wallace, district chief of the county Department of Mental Health. The church is at 504 N. Camden Drive. (310) 275-0123.

* Loyola Marymount and Chapman universities will host a three-day international conference on "Ethics and Religion for the 21st Century." The event, which begins Thursday, will examine human rights, gender issues and violence, with perspectives from world religions. The first two days will be at Chapman. For conference details, call (714) 997-6994. The Saturday session will be at Loyola Marymount in the University Hall auditorium. (310) 338-2846.

MUSIC

An organ recital by Ernest Lehrer, playing the music of Gade, Franck, Bach, Dupre and Creston, will be offered at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. James Presbyterian Church, 19414 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. Free. (818) 345-2057.

* The Ventura Choral Conductors Guild will present a mass choir festival, including movements from John Rutter's "Requiem," at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, 588 Camino Manzanas, Thousand Oaks. Free. (805) 498-4502.

PEOPLE

Rabbi Marvin Sugarman, past president of the Rabbinical Council of California and senior rabbi at Shaarey Zedek Congregation, said to be the largest and oldest Orthodox congregation in the San Fernando Valley, is retiring after 32 years in the pulpit. He and his wife, Rebbetzin Avis Sugarman, will be honored Sunday at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel. Earlier this week, a tribute to him was entered into the Congressional Record by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Mission Hills).

*

Notices may be mailed for consideration to Southern California File, c/o Religion Editor, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, faxed to Southern California File at (213) 237-4712 or e-mailed to religion@latimes.com. Items should arrive two to three weeks before the event and must include pertinent details about the people and organizations with address, phone number, date and time. Because of the volume of submissions, we cannot guarantee publication.

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