March 20, 2024

The World as We Wish It Was

Benjamin Mann Chief Planning Officer

Purim, coming up this Saturday evening and Sunday, March 23 and 24, is a joyous Jewish holiday, when Jews feast, dress in masquerade, and drink together in celebration. (Click here to read more about Purim) The holiday is based on the story told in the Book of Esther, in which the Jewish community of ancient Persia is saved from mass murder and instead defeats its enemies.

Just as the story of Esther describes a turn of affairs, Purim is a topsy-turvy day on which we imagine the world as we wish it was – when good triumphs over evil and justice triumphs over oppression.

Yet, Purim revelry also reminds us that is not always how things turn out in the real world. All too often throughout Jewish history the Jewish people have faced real peril and suffered real injustice. This year, as Israel remains at war and hostages remain in the hands of murderous terrorists, reality seems especially harsh. When our friends from Greater MetroWest Israel partnership communities were visiting us last month, Rabbi Rafi Tvizer shared with me that he expects celebrating Purim this year will be very difficult for him and his community in Ofakim, as they still mourn the loss of so many friends and family members killed on October 7.

The seriousness of the peril that Jews have faced throughout history and continue to face today is commemorated on the day before Purim, the Fast of Esthertaanit Esther (this year on Thursday, March 21, so as not to interfere with Shabbat). For me, taanit Esther will be especially poignant – a day of fasting and prayer for the Jewish people’s safety, and a day of mourning for so much loss and pain. And, I hope that, after that, celebrating Purim will bring us, in the Jewish community, some hope for brighter times ahead.

As we will read in the Book of Esther chapter 9, verse 22, may “the Jews enjoy relief from their foes” and have their fortunes “transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy.”

Wishing us all a meaningful taanit Esther and joyous Purim.