This Sunday is Purim, the most joyous, funny and goofy Jewish holiday. We dress up in costumes, eat and drink, and give presents to friends and neighbors, celebrating the victory of the Jewish people over a mortal enemy.
A few years ago, when we talked about Purim and drew parallels with today, we talked about Iran and its bloodthirsty pursuit of nuclear weapons and about threats to the existence of Israel. More recently, we started talking more openly about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and what it means to the European Jewish communities that have been rebuilding Jewish life in their countries. We watched with horror the slaying of our Jewish brothers and sisters in Paris and Toulouse. I don't think we imagined that today, in 2017, we would be talking about bomb threats, evacuations, swastikas on college campuses and increased security of our institutions here in the United States. So, after we have a few drinks on Sunday, let's remember the bitter lesson of Purim: the Haman is not dead. There's a new Haman in every generation, and we have to be prepared to defeat him.
Our history is full of these grim reminders but it is also a story of miraculous deliveries, and Purim is one of these stories. Let's celebrate and be happy. Am Israel Chai, the people of Israel live!
There's something good and happy I want to share with you today: A little while ago, Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council established a connection with the MILLS (Mills Institute for Learning & Leadership Services) center at the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Hills and joined its book donation program. MILLS, an early childhood development center that primarily serves children from very-low-income families, stresses the love of books and reading in addition to its typical curricula for ages 15 months to 5 years. Most children who attend MILLS come from homes with few, if any, books, and MILLS gives out books to children as rewards for good behavior and achievement. Despite support from the church, the school does not have the money to buy enough books.
Working with the Roth Family JCC's Early Childhood Learning Center to collect new and gently used books, we were able to deliver more than 300 books to MILLS last week! If you would like to donate to this ongoing program, let us know! We are seeking books in good enough condition that you would be proud to give them to a friend. An ideal book is anything that a child age 5 or younger may enjoy, particularly with recognizable characters like Curious George or Winnie the Pooh.
With these acts of kindness, we are improving lives of many children, and we are doing it thanks to your generous support of Federation's annual campaign.
Wishing you a good Shabbat and a joyous Purim,