The Megillah of Esther: An Original English Rendition Set to Trōp, by Ḥazzan Jack Kessler

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Hebrew English

The Megillah of Esther: An Original English Rendition

Our Jewish heritage is a rich treasury of the accumulated wisdom (and wit) of the many centuries of our remarkable history. One of the greatest challenges facing the contemporary Jewish community outside Israel is that of making this heritage accessible, in light of the language barrier posed by classical Hebrew.

A successful formula employed by a growing number of congregations and ḥavurot is the singing of Biblical texts – Torah, Haftarot, and Megillot – in English which has been set to Trop, the ancient melodic chant system for these texts. For many, this is an ideal way to communicate the meaning of the Hebrew text.

This setting of Megillat Esther is an imaginative, humorous rendition of the story of Purim. Sing it entirely in English, or do it in sections alternating this English with Hebrew.

This Megillah encourages involvement! The English text is simple and fun for all ages. The goal is to make Purim, well, Purim: lots of meshugass, with the underlying message that it’s just flat-out great to be Jewish!

Ḥazzan Jack Kessler

Blessings Before the Megillah

Audio: MP3


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה
יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֺתָיו,
וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל מִקְרָא מְגִלָּה:‏
Blessed be You,
YHVH (Hashem), our elo’ah,
Master of the Cosmos,
who makes us holy through your mitsvot,
and the reading of this Megilla.

Baruch Ata
Adonai Elohenu
Melech ha’Olam
asher kidshanu b’mitsvotav
v’tsivanu al mikra Megilla


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה
יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ
בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם
בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה:‏
Blessed be You,
YHVH (Hashem), our elo’ah,
Master of the Cosmos,
who has done great things for our ancestors,
in their days,
at this time.

Baruch Ata
Adonai Elohenu
Melech ha’Olam
she’asa nisim la’avotenu
bayamim hahem
bazman hazeh


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה
יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ
וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ
וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה:‏
Blessed be You,
YHVH (Hashem), our elo’ah,
Master of the Cosmos,
who gives us life,
strength,
and the gift of this happy time!

Baruch Ata
Adonai Elohenu
Melech ha’Olam
she-hech’yanu
v’kimanu
v’higiyanu lazman hazeh

֤Once upon a ֜time, in the t֣ime of Aḥash’ve֔rosh
Now this was the֜ Aḥash’ver֔osh whose ֣empire
extended all the way from In‎֖dia to Ethiopia׃
In the third ֜year of his r֔eign
in the ֖capital ֥city of Shush‎֑an
he threw a h֜uge p֨arty for all his ֜ministers
a֥nd his ch֣ief s֔ervants……
j֤ust to impr֜ess them with his fant֣astic w֔ealth
a֖nd gr֥eat֑ness
This party la֥sted se֖ven full days׃
Every֞one had ֤all they could ֜eat and d֔rink
from b֥eautiful go֣lden d֑ishes
including ֖some the invaders t֥ook
from our ֖holy Temple׃

The festi֜vities went on and ֔on and ֥on and ֖on and on׃
And on the s֤eventh d֜ay
when the k֣ing was pretty dr֔unk
he cal֤led for Queen V֜ashti
to d֜ance before the whole ֔crowd
dre֥ssed in ֖only her crown׃
Now V֤ashti was no c֜oward but w֣hen she ref֔used
the king’s r֥age b֖oiled over׃
V֤ashti was fi֜red as qu֔een
and ba֥nished from Sh֖ushan forever׃
N֤ot long ֜afterward when the ֣king sobered ֔up
he wo֥ndered what to ֖do for a new queen׃
His m֤inisters advi֜sed him to have a ֣beauty c֔ontest
so the most g֧orgeous w֛oman in the whole e֥mpire
would ֖be his new queen׃

And ֞so Mordechai the J֛ew sent his ֖niece ֥Esther
to try ֣out for the j֑ob
And ֞Esther was the ֜most be֨autiful of ֗all
so s֖he became qu֥een of the Persian empire׃
E֤sther was ca֜reful and d֣idn’t tell a֔nyone
that s֥he was a Jew׃
Her ֤uncle M֜ordechai would ֣sit outside the p֔alace
to keep in to֥uch with Esther׃
Now just in ֤case you th֜ink
that th֜is is the end of the st֔ory
hang ֥on— there’s a l֖ot to come׃

One d֞ay M֤ordechai h֜eard two g֣uards
pl֔otting to m֥urder the king׃
M֜ordechai rep֨orted what he had he֗ard
and the king’s l֥ife was saved׃
For th֜is no֣body thanked hi֔m
but his n֖ame was wr֥itten in the k֖ing’s records׃
So֥metime after all ֣these h֑appenings
the k֖ing appo֥inted a ne֖w Prime Minister׃
His n֣ame was Haman
The k֣ing’s new m֣inister had a ֣very ֣big ֡ego
and l֧oved to have p֛eople b֖ow d֥own to him׃
֤One d֜ay h֣e and his ֔officers pa‎֥ssed ֣by M֑ordechai
wh֤o as u֜sual was si֔tting ֥by the p֖alace gate׃
but M֣ordechai ref֣used to bow ֣down to Haman

Wh֤en the o֜fficers tol֣d him to bow d֔own
Mordechai s֞aid: I ֤am a J֜ew
and ֣I don’t b֔ow to a֥nyone b֣ut my ֑God
I ֤serve the H֜oly One
and th֥is make֖s me free׃

Haman was ֜absolutely f֨urious
and ֤went to the ki֜ng and s֔aid:
O your Hi֞ghness, Bel֜oved and Mi֨ghty
a֤nd Fant֜astic and A֣wesome Ki֔ng
I have ֖bad n֥ews f֖or you׃
Th֤ere is a p֜eople
scattered ֣throughout your E֔mpire
that d֖oesn’t f֥ollow y֖our laws׃
Now ֜this is te֨rrible! But I can take c֠are of them
If yo֤u give ֜me the ֔OK I’ll w֜aste them
and they’ll ֣never bother you a֔gain
I’ll e֧ven bring ֛in some more m֥oney
fo֖r your treasury׃

And the ֤king s֜aid: sounds ֣fine to m֔e
gei gesunte-heit
d֖o what you w֥ant with ֣these p֑eople
No֖w leave me a֥lone—
I’ve got a d֖ate with the Queen׃

And ֞so all the d֜ays of the ye֨ar
were ֤written on pieces of p֜aper
and p֣ut in a b֔ox
and ֤one pi֜ece was taken ֤out by Haman
T֧his would ֖be the ֛day
that ֖all the Je֥ws would ֖be killed׃
And ֞so the ne֤ws went ֜out by expr֣ess ֔riders
to ֖all p֥arts of the ֑empire
to kill ֡all the J֠ews
men, wo֤men and ֜children
r֤ich, p֜oor, y֣oung and ֔old
on the ֖fourteenth day of A֥dar
now ֖that’s tonight׃
Also a sp֤ecial g֜allows was b֔uilt
to h֣ang the Jew M֔ordechai
who w֖ouldn’t bow d֥own to Haman.

Now when the J֤ews h֜eard this
they th֔ought t֥hey were d֣oomed for s֑ure
but M֥ordechai got a ֖message to Esther׃
He ֞said: Y֤ou have a ch֜ance
to change the course of hi֔story
G֜o for it! Go ֤talk to the ki֜ng!
T֤his may be the w֜ork of the Ho֣ly One of I֔srael
You ֤may have become q֜ueen
just so y֣ou’d have the ch֔ance
to s֥ave your people׃

Now E֞sther was ֜ter֨rified
bec֤ause if she went to the ki֜ng
with֣out being in֔vited
the k֖ing might get ֥mad and k֑ill her
but ֖she deci֥ded to do it׃

So E֞sther dr֕essed in ֤her sn֜appiest lo֘w-cut queen ֒outfit,
and she w֞alked into the th֧rone room, uni֛nvited.
She went ֤up to the ki֜ng on his thr֔one
and she went d֧own on her k֛nees,
and the ֥king was g֖lad to see her׃
And the ֤king s֜aid, (dramatic pause)
“E֜sther b֨aby! G֤ood to s֜ee you!
You look g֜reat! What can I gi֜ve you?
As֤k for a֜nything, you can ha֔ve it,
up to 50 p֥ercent of the whole kingdom.”׃
Qu֖een E֥sther s֑aid: “my ֡King, I’d li֤ke you to c֜ome
to a sp֣ecial little p֔arty in my pa֥rt of the p֑alace
just y֤ou and m֜e, dear ki֔ng
and ֤oh y֜es, just for f֔un
please b֤ring Haman.”

That nig֥ht, the king had insomnia.׃
So he c֞alled for the c֤ourt r֜ecords to be read out l֔oud,
so tha֥t he could be ֖bored to sleep׃
The st֣ory was t֗old of how Mordecai rep֜orted
on the p֣lot against the ki֔ng
The king s֞aid, “w֤ait a ֜minute, this ֜guy saved my lif֨e,
and ֖we never ֥did anything for him?”׃
thi֤nk, think, think, think, t֣hink, think, thi֔nk.
o֥k, no good i֑deas. is anybody ֤else ar֜ound?”
and Haman by coi֜ncidence just ha֜ppened
to be h֧anging ar֛ound
n֖ear the king’s ch֥ambers in the m֣iddle of the n֑ight
so the ki֤ng called him i֜n and a֔sked,
“W֧hat should be d֛one for a m֥an
the k֖ing has decided to honor?”׃
and Haman, in his typ֧ical self-ab֛sorbed
narc֖issistic w֥ay of th֑inking,
th֞ought: he m֤ust mean me!
so he s֞aid: “such a ֧man should be d֛ressed
֖in the k֥ing’s ro֑bes,
and s֞at upon the ki֜ng’s best h֨orse,
and pa֤raded through the ֜city,
led by so֤meone who calls ֜out, o֤ver and o֜ver:
“This is a ֕man the ki֥ng is delighted to honor.”׃
So the king s֞aid:
“E֤xcellent id֜ea! do it for the Jew M֜ordecai!
Yo֜u will be the ֨one to le֤ad the h֜orse through the str֔eets!
M֤ake it ֜so! so let it be wr֥itten, so let it be done!”׃

And ֗so: the next ni֞ght, a֤fter the e֜nd
of a v֤ery, ֜very, v֣ery long d֔ay,
Haman dr֥agged him֣self h֑ome,
and told the w֧hole pat֖hetic ֛story to his w֥ife and f֑ollowers.
His wif֤e said: “Wh֜at?
and you wanna, wha֜ck this guy?
Are you ֤outta your mind? fugg֜edaboutit!
This is n֥ot a co֑incidence!
This dud֤e is n֜othing but tro֔uble!
His kar֥ma will run o֖ver your dogma!”׃
But at ֤that very m֜oment,
the king’s gu֞ards came knocking on the d֜oor
(make banging noises)
to escort Haman to that f֖ateful dinner׃

And so the ki֞ng and Haman went to Esther’s p֑arty.
The k֤ing was in a good m֜ood, and said to E֔sther:
“T֜ell me, dear Q֨ueen, w֧hat do you want n֛ow?
It shall ֥be my r֖oyal command.”׃
And E֥sther cried ֑out: “S֤ave my life!
So֤meone is trying to mu֜rder me
and ֣all my p֔eople!
Sa֤ve me, sa֜ve me, O p֖lease pl֥ease s֖ave me!”׃
And the ki֞ng s֤houted: “Wh֜o? Wh֜at? Wh֜ere?
Who could ֥do such a terrible t֑hing?”
And Esthe֤r said: Thi֜s one! This Evil O֜ne — HAMAN

Now the E֤vil One could ֜see that he had a pr֔oblem
and b֖owed d֥own to b֣eg for m֑ercy
but he j֤ust h֜appened to t֞rip
o֣ver Esther’s g֗own — pulling it d֗own
and he land֥ed right on t֖op of Esther׃
and the king ֤said “wh֜at? how d֜are you
try to make who֜opee with the Qu֔een?
get your h֜ands off the royal as֔sets
b֥oy you in a h֖eap of trouble”׃
He gave ֜orders and g֤uards c֜ame with h֤andcuffs
and ch֜ains and very ֣unfriendly expr֔essions
and took away Haman
At that m֞oment, ju֤st by coi֜ncidence,
one ֤of the king’s mi֜nisters cam֣e in and s֔aid:
“Exc֜use me, your M֨ajesty,
Wha֤t do you want to d֜o with the g֜allows
out in ֣front of the p֔alace,
th֖at were b֥uilt for the J֣ew Mo֑rdechai,
the on֥e who sa֖ved your life?”׃
And E֜sther said; “Wait a ֜minute – he’s my ֜uncle!’
Then the kin֤g said: “Wh֜at? No more mister nic֔e guy
us֤e the g֜allows to hang HAMAN

Now the st֥ory’s not ֣quite ֑over
The ki֞ng didn’t l֤ike to change his ֜orders
on֣ce he’d giv֔en them
so the ֧order to kill ֖all the J֛ews
was st֥ill in force׃
But E֞sther b֜egged and ple֨aded
and the ki֞ng g֤ave the o֜rder
that the Je֜ws could defend the֔mselves
so th֞at when their e֜nemies
ca֣me to att֔ack them
the Jews s֥urvived by fighting back׃
Then the ki֞ng made Mordech֡ai his prime mi֠nister
And ga֤ve hi֜m a ve֤ry sn֜azzy pa֣lace of his o֔wn
Which in֣cidentally had bel֣onged to HAMAN
And so a֖lmost eve֥rybody lived
happi֖ly ever ֑after

Now ֤what can we le֜arn from ֣all thi֔s?
As ֤it is w֜ritten in the bo֣oks of the Wi֔se Ones
coi֤ncidence is G֜od’s way of st֣aying ano֔nymous
and ֤if you co֜me to a fo֣rk in the ro֔ad
you s֖hould defi֥nitely ta֑ke it
At the e֣nd of the d֗ay
when we take ֕off the mas֥ks we we֣ar for the w֑orld
Wh֥o are ֣we re֑ally?
We ca֜n all be Mo֨rdechai
We ֟can all be ֒Esther
(all rise)
Stan֤d up for j֜ustice
Don’t b֣ow to ֔evil
We s֜erve the H֨oly One
and th֥is ma֖kes us free!
׃

Blessings after the Megillah


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה
יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ
מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
הָרָב אֶת רִיבֵֽנוּ וְהַדָּן אֶת דִּינֵֽנוּ וְהַנּוֹקֵם אֶת נִקְמָתֵֽנוּ
וְהַמְשַׁלֵּם גְּמוּל לְכָל אוֹיְבֵי נַפְשֵֽׁנוּ וְהַנִּפְרָע לָֽנוּ מִצָּרֵֽינוּ.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ
הַנִּפְרָע לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכָּל צָרֵיהֶם הָאֵל הַמּוֹשִֽׁיעַ:‏
Blessed are You,
YHVH (Hashem), our elo’ah,
Master of the Cosmos,
Who helps us in our struggles,
Who brings our enemies to justice.
Blessed are You Adonai,
by whose power Your people Israel is delivered from all enemies.

Baruch Ata
Adonai Eloheynu
Melech ha-Olam
Harav et riveynu v’ha-dan et dineynu v’ha-nokeym et nik’mateynu
v’ha-m’shaleym g’mul l’chol oy’vey nafsheynu v’ha-nifra lanu mi-tzareynu.
Baruch Ata Adonai
ha-nifra Vamo Yisrael mi-kol tzarey-hem, ha-El ha-moshia.


The Megillah of Esther: An Original English Rendition (set to trop) by Ḥazzan Jack Kessler was first published in 1990. This second “version 2.0” edition was published in 2016.

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