On the holiday of Purim, it is traditional to dress in costumes, eat hamantaschen (triangular filled cookies), and hear the story of how Esther saved the Jews in ancient Persia.
Purim 2020 was the last Jewish holiday celebrated with the community in person or, for some, the first holiday celebration cancelled due to COVID-19. I would like to posit that we’ve done nothing BUT celebrate Purim for the last year!
During both Purim and the pandemic:
- Everyone wears a mask.
- Things are topsy-turvy.
- We celebrate the bravery of heroes.
For further proof, notice how the four mitzvot (commandments) of Purim have been part of our lives for the past year:
- Hear the megillah (the Book of Esther, read on Purim): With time for “the whole megillah,” families are reading more, sharing favorite childhood movies, and telling stories of “the good old days” when we saw people’s faces in person. The PJ Library and PJ Our Way books, one might argue, were built for this: they’re still arriving in children’s homes each month, providing access to new stories.
- Eat a festive meal: One prevalent theme of the pandemic has been food! Families are cooking together, baking bread, and trying new foods. My kids miss eating outside of our home, but we hope to get back to that, and not just curbside pickup, soon.
- Mishloach Manot (sending gifts): Our family—like so many—has been regularly sharing the extra challah, babka, and cookies we’re making (we like sharing calories and spreading cheer!) and creating bags of treats for family and neighbors to celebrate the holidays.
- Matanot L’evyonim (sending portions): Giving to help those experiencing poverty is certainly a mitzvah our community has taken to heart. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has raised $6.3 million for COVID-19 relief and human service needs, and continues to partner with our network of human service agencies and organizations that are uniquely positioned to help those in need directly. Individuals and families are also doing their part by donating to local non-profits in recognition of the increased needs throughout the community.
Purim officially starts at sundown on Thursday, February 25. To celebrate Purim with your Greater Washington Jewish community, check out these fun socially-distanced options and resources.
Chag sameach (Happy Holiday).
P.S. Want to honor the bravery of “sheroes” this Purim? Check out my article in Washington Parent!
Listen to the Purim story, songs, and more