03/08/2012 04:30 pm ET Updated Mar 08, 2012

Purim 2012: Jews Celebrate Festive Holiday In Israel (PHOTOS)

Purim is a spring holiday that commemorates the Jewish community's narrow escape from collective destruction in the ancient Persian Empire, as recounted in the Scroll of Esther. Likened to Halloween for its encouragement of costume wearing, Purim is one the most colorful -- and wackiest -- holidays on the Jewish calendar.

But don't let the masks fool you: Purim is a holiday with deep spiritual significance and an emphasis on helping the poor.

Purim Festival