Reclaiming a sense of community this Purim

It is ironic that the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt life in the United States, forcing lockdowns and major gatherings – right around Purim time in 2020. Ironically, this joyous Jewish holiday emphasizes the importance of community and gathering together.

The four important observances of this holiday, which begin at sunset on Wednesday, March 16, and end on the night of Thursday, March 17, are Megillah – listening to the recitation of the Book of Esther, exchanging gifts of food. The poor and the poor sit for the festive feast.

What unites these observances is that they are usually performed with others – and there is a reason for this.

In the story of Purim in Persia of the 4th century BC, Viceroy Haman described the Jews as “scattered and divided among the peoples” of the Persian Empire. Haman told King Ahasuerus that they were divided and therefore could be conquered. In response, the Jewish leader Mordecai called on the Jews to gather to pray. After Haman’s plot was spoiled by Queen Esther, the Jews again gathered to defend against their enemies.

Throughout history, our unity has kept us alive. We unite to celebrate, and we unite to face danger. As the Ukraine invaded, people around the world gave whatever material, financial or emotional support they could to harm Jews and others. This happened when we also prepared to celebrate Purim. When we are united we are the best in all matters.

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