What is Purim? And Have We All Gone Mad?
Purim is everywhere.
A masquerade. A feast. A time of drinking and debauchery. Why?
The unbridled joy of early spring? Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die?
G!d…not mentioned once. G!d’s deafening absence in our first story of Exile.
How do we survive in the Diaspora?
Well…no one is coming to rescue us. We must keep faith in the darkness. And accept that empire persists.
We reckon again with old, old hatreds. Amalek attacks. Grave danger, violence, evil surrounds us. Will salvation come?
Purim is everywhere.
Before starting to read the megillah (Book of Esther/Purim story) to the kids at dinner last night, I first read the Torah verses connected with Purim: “Amalek came and battled Israel…G!d maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:8 and 17:16). Our son, Shama (12 years old), asked “Where is Amalek now?” Well, one particular dictator comes to mind, but it’s more complicated than that. Yes, Purim is real. In every generation there are those who rise up to destroy us.
War rages in Ukraine; people need help. Our Hakhel Co-Directors, Rabbi Aharon Ariel Lavi and Michal Guttman, are leading holy work, sending delegations of heroic volunteers with critical supplies and expertise to support women and children refugees pouring over the border. We are part of a global movement stepping up to serve at this critical moment. It’s a mitzvah (commandment) to give tzedakah (charity) on Purim; please support Hakhel with a gift today.
Because we are one human family. One planet. Inextricably interconnected, interdependent, interwoven.
A few days ago, I participated in a Jewish community meeting with Sierra Club leadership. This meeting was arranged to discuss the Sierra Club’s outings to Israel, alongside our partners at JFNA, the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the JCRC of Silicon Valley, and California Jewish Legislative Caucus leaders Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and Senator Scott Wiener. It was a genuine, open-hearted, and open-minded conversation, and I am grateful for the Sierra Club’s leadership. You can read the outcome of that productive meeting here. Progress towards an essential truth: we are one.
Purim is everywhere. Just ask Mordechai.
To Esther he said, in the moment of truth:
And who knows, you may have been chosen for just such a time as this.
So in honor of the courageous ones carrying Esther’s flame forward on the streets of Ukraine, may we rise up this Purim day, to bring joy, peace, and balance to a topsy-turvy world.
Chief Executive Officer