Story: Purim of Siracusa [Saragossa]
Scholars still debate the location of the story. Many favor Siracusa (Syracuse, on the island of Sicily) as the location of our story some 600 (1421) years ago. Others refer to Saragossa, Spain as the location. In any event, The Jewish main street of the city contained 12 synagogues. At the annual royal visit three Torahs dressed in gold and silver were taken from each synagouge to welcome and parade the King through the town. One day the leaders of the community decided that the practice violates the sanctity of the Torah and that henceforth the Torah containers would be marched dressed as before but empty without the Torahs. The practice went well for 22 years.
View Image 1 [High resolution]
View Image 2 [High resolution]
One day an apostate by the name of Marcus at a royal meeting revealed the secret. The King in a fury ordered a surprise inspection the next day and the slaughter of all Jews if Marcus is indeed correct. That night the Prophet Elijah appeared in the dreams of each of the 12 sextons and ordered them to insert the Torah in the empty cases. The next day, upon finding the scrolls in the containers the King ordered Marcus executed and relieved the Jews of taxes for a period. As a result of the miracle, the scroll was written and the 17th of Shevat celebrated as the Purim of Saragossa or Siracusa, still observed in many Sephardi families to this day.