March 2016

Purim Madness!

One of the first things to come to mind when I think about Purim is “balagan”—sheer madness! Noisy kids running around, lots of talking, eating, and of course, drinking! Not to mention all of the “booing” as we blot out Haman’s name. A little crazy, yes, but lots of fun.

The main event, of course, is the reading of the Esther story. Unlike other books of the Tanakh, the Book of Esther describes a salvation not from a God acting from above, but from a God who appears to work through and within history. The day is won through the clever plotting of Esther and Mordecai, representatives of a politically astute and well-connected Jewish community wholly integrated into the political and social life of their time and place. The fact that God’s name does not appear even once in the entire Book of Esther underlines the point that God, at least in our day, governs the world by acting through history, not by circumventing it. All of these things, together with the fact that the Purim story is a joyous tale about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, makes Purim one of the most beloved of all Jewish celebrations.

Just about every synagogue I know has only one service for Purim evening. This way, all the fun, craziness, and ritual obligations are experienced together by the entire congregation. In past years, TBS has held back-to-back services, one that’s been family oriented, where we read only small portions of Megillat Esther, and a second, more traditional service where the entire scroll is read. I’ve always regretted that we’ve been unable to bring our entire community together for an evening of fun, laughter, excitement, hamentashin, and crazy costumes as we experience the joy of hearing the Megillat Esther.

This year we will be doing just that with one very special service in the social hall. As we read the Megillah, the text will be displayed on a large screen in Hebrew and English along with surprise photos. To spice up the reading, original videos of our religious school students, youth group, and even various Temple boards and committees will be interspersed between each chapter. You won’t want to miss seeing your friends and children on the big screen. Don’t forget to come in costume and compete for fun prizes. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Purim celebration without lots of different flavored hamentashin and good things to drink to help with the merriment of the evening. This TBS Purim will be one for the books!

So, be happy, be joyful, get meshugah and come to Beth Sholom on Wednesday, March 23rd at 6:30 PM for our Purim Celebration. I’ll close with one final question: What will Rabbi Bazer dress up as for Purim this year?

See you at “the place to be” for Purim!

Rabbi, Dr. Larry Bazer