Los Angeles, California, March 19, 2011 - members of the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills make noise with rattles during the reading of the Megillah. The synagogue is home to a predominently Persian congregation. ..Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people living in the Persian Empire from genocide at the hands of the political advisor, Haman, to the Persian King Ahasuerus, as documented in the Talmud's Book of Esther. It is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther or the Megillah, sending food gifts to friends, giving charity to the poor and celebrating with a festive meal. During the reading of the Megillah, when Haman's name is mentioned (which happens 54 times) the congregation engages in loud roars and the use of rattles in an effort to blot out his name. Today children and some adults dress in costume and masquerade to celebrate Purim. The custom is believed to have originated during the 15th century by Italian Jews influenced by the Roman carnival. One idea for the costumes is that God disguised his presence behind many of the natural events that happened during Purim. .