I never knew about Purim from a child’s point-of-view until I had two of my own.
When I was growing up, we just observed the major holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover. Everything else was overlooked.
Not until I was out on my own did I really get knowledge on everything pertaining to Judaism.
However, my boys adored that day.
We planned, we baked, and we made costumes a long time ahead.
We made shalach manot baskets. Although I always told them it was NOT a second Halloween or Jewish Halloween, they looked forward to it just the same.
At the time when my boys were small, we lived in South Florida where there were many Jews so on or around Purim, there were numerous festivals. After going to quite a few, we thought the one that was practically down the road from us suited us best.
This carnival at a local synagogue with rides, food and all kinds of Purim frivolities was excellent and was usually the weekend closest to Purim. All had a good time.
Irwin Blank, an American who resides in Israel, writes a less gentle view of Purim in the past and now. His Purim greeting email that went out to his friends and family states the history of Purim in that part of the world and the atmosphere that is now.
“Purim, the festival that commemorates the victorious survival over the evil Persian prince, Haman, is celebrated this weekend with parties, costume contests and the lovely parades of children all dressed up as Queen Esther, Mordechai, and the king of Persia, Ahasuerus.
The story of how Esther saved her people is read in the synagogue and is known as Megillat Esther-the Scroll of Esther, because she is the heroine of the story. Indeed, it has been the courage and strength of the Jewish woman who has made it possible for us to survive as a people. While Jewish men and boys were being slaughtered in the centuries of our persecution. . . it was the women who bore the struggle to raise their shattered families. It is this reason why the Talmud, that compendium of Jewish law, expressly states that the woman denotes the faith of her child, as the father can never be assured as to whether he survives.
However, there is a lovely tradition on Purim where friends and family exchange small gifts, usually fruit, sweets and wine. This is known as "Shalach Manot" literally, "Sending Portions," and it began as a way to help those less fortunate enjoy the holiday with treats that they might not have been able to purchase on their own. This year, the Persian Empire (iran) again rises to wipe out the Jewish people-the descendants of Haman have not relented in their scandalous attempt to destroy the people of Esther and Mordechai. Maybe this Purim, we can deliver Shalach Manot to the heirs of that ancient progeny of Amalek. Not sweets or wine, but the sword of the Jews that rose up to erase the evil that was preached by Haman all over Persia over 2500 years ago. . .”
It still amazes me that through the generations that evil, compassion and innocence can stand side by side.
Purim is, to me, a reminder that history often repeats itself in cruel and terrible ways. It is up to us to make sure that we know our history of the world and the players who are there now.
No more can we turn our backs on what is going on and say that we are ill-informed because we do not want to know the truth. Most history cannot be wiped out by imbibing too much wine then raucously stamping our feet to drown out our foes name.
Although Purim has a wonderful side, with enough Jewish heroes for our children, it also relates a darker side of Jewish history, which begs for us who are Jews to be always vigilant.
“Chag Purim Same’ach!” Happy Purim