We have just finished celebrating the holiday of Purim. There’s a saying that all Jewish holidays come down to this: “they tried to kill us, they failed, now let’s eat” and Purim fits well within that characterization. Purim commemorates the foiling of a plot by a wicked adviser to the Persian King Ahasuerus to exterminate the Jews of the kingdom. And of course we eat!
There are some specific elements of Purim that are worthy of note. As with most Jewish holidays, we spend a good amount of time recounting the tale to our children and each other—such that we pass down our story—in this case the book is long and called the Megillah (hence, the expression in my home whenever I tell a story, “don’t give us the whole megillah!”). We also allow—actually encourage—rowdiness during the reading. We blot out the name of the villain with noises and cheer the heroes and heroines (yes, that makes the reading even longer).
Then to honor this triumph over the threat of annihilation, the Book of Esther says we should: enjoy feasting and gladness, send delicacies to one another and gifts to the poor.
So the “let’s eat” part has a special component—we make sure to give food to those who have trouble affording it. We are supposed to give two charitable donations, each equivalent at least to the food or money spent on a typical meal. At a time of great celebration, we are commanded to remember those who are facing economic challenges.
This is a good time, then, to remember the people we serve at JCHE and the ones who wish we could serve them, but remain on our waiting list—sometimes for 5 or 6 years. We need more apartments—and that need will become more acute in the years to come as we experience the staggering growth of the 90+ population in the near future.
We are able to offer our specialized array of programs and services all year round, which transform our housing into supportive communities, because many people donate generously to us, so that our elders may age with dignity and grace. We need more of that, too!