Wooden Gregger


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What can we see?

We can see a wooden gregger. We can see Hebrew writing on the gregger.

Look closely, what can you see?

What do we know?

We know that this object is a gregger, made in the 1920s. A gregger is a musical instrument used during the reading of the Megillah (the Esther Scroll) for the festival of Purim.

Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people in Persia from the evil ruler Haman who wanted to ‘annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.’ Whenever the name of the evil ruler, Haman, is mentioned during the reading of the story, the Jewish people are instructed to drown out Haman’s name with loud noise. This idea is taken from Deuteronomy 25:19 which reads “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” as Haman was a descendent of Amalek.

During the reading of the Megillah, many people will spin the gregger when Haman’s name is read, which creates a loud, sharp sound. Alternatively, people may stamp their feet or shout at the sound of Haman’s name.

The Hebrew writing on this gregger reads ‘Arur Haman’ which means ‘cursed be Haman.’

What do we wonder?

We might wonder who owned this gregger. We might also wonder when this gregger was donated to the Jewish Museum.

What do you wonder?

Object File

Object Name: Wooden Gregger

Date: 1920s

Catalogue number: C1996.2.9

Materials: Wood

Purim is a fun-filled festival celebrated every year on the 14th of the Jewish Month, Adar. During this festival, many Jewish people will wear masks, read the story of Esther and play the gregger.

You can find the story of Purim in the Scroll of Esther, known as the Megillah. Esther is the hero of the story of Purim.

The story of Purim took place 2,400 years ago. It tells the story of how Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai saved the Jewish people from persecution by Haman. Haman was the prime minister to King Ahasuerus. Haman persuaded the King to order the persecution of the Jewish people. The leader of the Jews was a man named Mordecai. Mordecai wanted to save the Jewish people. Mordecai’s cousin Esther was married to King Ahasuerus. King Ahasuerus did not know that Esther was Jewish. Mordecai persuaded Esther to tell the King who she was and to spare the Jewish people. King Ahasuerus accepted her request. Haman was sent to the gallows, and Mordecai became the new prime minister.

Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which occurs in the early spring. Jewish people celebrate the joyful story of Purim with elements similar to carnival. It is traditional for Jews to dress up in costume, perform plays, listen to music, and dance. Dressing up in costume is symbolic of the fact that even though God’s name is not mentioned once in the Purim story, God is still present. God is present, but hidden in the story. This is why Jewish people dress up on Purim, to hide themselves to symbolise how God is hidden in the Purim story.

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