This is a picture of the tomb of Mordechai and Esther that is located in Hamadan, Iran. The title, “Tomb of Mordechai the Righteous and Queen Esther (May Their Merit Protect Us)” is written in the shape of an arch across the top of the picture. Beneath the depiction of the tomb the inscription, “This is the top of the grave that the modest Mr. Avushalam, son of Ohad the doctor z”l, ordered to be built in the year 5618,” is printed and then written more clearly below. The illustration of the tomb depicts a brick structure with a dome on top, and a man dressed in traditional Persian clothing is standing in front of the doorway.
According to tradition, the tomb is built over the graves of Mordechai and Esther whose story is described in the biblical Book of Esther and is celebrated on Purim. The city of Hamadan is often associated with Shushan where the Purim story took place in the fourth century BCE. Another tradition of the Jewish community of Iran explains that Hamadan is, rather, the place where Esther and Mordechai fled after the death of Ahasuerus, fearing that Haman’s followers would assassinate them, and received protection from the city’s Jewish community. The tomb was first mentioned by the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela. The mausoleum is thought to have been built in the 1600s and has become an important site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Between the two tombs is a deep pit covered by a large stone, which, according to one of the traditional stories, leads all the way to Jerusalem! Adjacent to the tombs is a room that serves as a place for prayer, used also for the reading of the Megillah and family celebrations. On the ceiling of the mausoleum is a small niche in which jewels were found at the beginning of the twentieth century by a French explorer, who took them to the Louvre. The Jews of Hamadan believe that the crown found among the jewels had belonged to Queen Esther. In 2008, the Iranian government declared the tomb a world heritage site. The government's protection of the site was removed, however, when Iranian students threatened to destroy it in revenge for the so-called Jewish destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the massacre of the Persians mentioned in the Megillah.
One additional tradition places Mordechai and Esther’s tomb in the village of Baram near the city of Safed, Israel.
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Purim - Purim is celebrated on the 14 Adar as the day the Jewish people were saved from destruction during the fourth century BCE. The heroine of the Purim story, Queen Esther, worked together with her uncle, Mordechai, to reverse the decree of genocide issued against the Jewish people by Haman, the vizier of Persia. It is the tradition on Purim to dress up in costumes, distribute small food packages known as mishloach manot, give charity, and listen to the reading of the Megilla – the Book of Esther.