In the fallout to this year’s thread about Lent, it came out that all of the celebrations we were doing were all either Christian or post-Christian, and we really needed to branch out more.
So I did some research and Purim is one of the most accessible Jewish festivals out there, one of the festivals most open to outsiders, and one of the pure fun “they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat” holidays on the calendar.
How to do it right? Well, I got on the google:
Many Jewish people, especially children, in the United States use this event as an opportunity to listen to the Megilla (or Megillah) to relive the events that are told about the story of Esther, Mordecai and Haman. It is customary to twirl graggers (Purim noisemakers) and stamp one’s feet when Haman’s name is mentioned.
The Megilla, you say? I think I could do a fine Megilla! I had to improvise on the issue of “graggers” but I hope you enjoy it. (Sorry about the lighting in this one, I wanted to start it right at the beginning of sundown and finish after the sun was set but I had to work late.)
As for the second part of the celebration:
Many Jewish people give to the needy around this time of the year. Food baskets or food gifts are also given away. It is a time for people to celebrate and be merry. So some Jewish schools hold celebrations to remember the past and their heritage. Other groups or organizations hold Purim carnivals filled with activities, costumes, food and games. Special prayers, particularly the Al HaNissim prayer are also included in evening, morning and afternoon prayers.
So if you want to celebrate Purim in your own way as well and you don’t know if you can get away with a food basket (“What brought this on?” “Well, this website I’m on had a post…”), take a friend out to dinner, or breakfast, or lunch.
If you want to focus a little more on giving to the needy, you can mix the whole food basket/charity thing by donating to any of many fine organizations. If the Purim thing is having you say “maybe I’ll give to a Jewish charity”, there is Mazon. If you think, okay, it doesn’t need to be a Jewish charity, some good ones are Action Against Hunger, The Hunger Project, or, if you want to donate to something closer to home, Meals on Wheels. If humans aren’t your strong suit, Pets of the Homeless specializes in providing veterinary care to the pets of the homeless. If you’re more interested in food for the mind? Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library gets books into the hands of children on a monthy basis from birth until they’re ready to go off to school at age five.
And don’t feel like you have to give some extravagant amount. Give $10. Give $5. I know you feel like you ought to give $50 or $100 or more… but if we get 10 people to give $5, that’s like one person giving $50. It’s the little things that add up and we’re all in this together.
Happy Purim, everybody.
So… what’s the charity that you tend to throw $5 toward when you find yourself with an extra $5?