Purim, at its heart, is a story about unseen forces. Throughout the entire Megillat Esther there are numerous instances of divine intervention, even though G-d’s name is not mentioned even once. In that way, Purim provides a microcosm of our lives, even in this day.
As we all know, this holiday offers an opportunity to be merry and celebrate our nation’s survival at the brink of destruction. But this chag also gives us the chance to consider and appreciate the often positive and unrecognized forces at work in our lives, which help shape our families, relationships and, indeed, our Jewish community.
By way of background, my husband and I moved to Richmond from Israel just a few years ago. We both had successful jobs in Tel Aviv and were living a block from the beach, but we knew that when we wanted to start a family, we wanted to be closer to our parents.
Last September, my husband and I welcomed our son, and began to seriously consider the important role a synagogue would play in our child’s life – for his Jewish identity, education, relationships and milestone occasions.
It was just a few short weeks later that we all had the chance to attend a Shabbat service at Beth Tikvah, a 200-family-strong congregation in Richmond. The services had ruach and intent and the congregation was warm, welcoming, comfortable and child-friendly – in short, it was a perfect fit for us.
Just like the story of Purim, where “natural events” can seem random, so, too, could our introduction to Beth Tikvah be viewed as serendipitous. But it is possible to discern the unseen divine in the human forces at work – in this case, through a special congregation, whose members and leadership reached out to us like family.
These types of inspired instances are all too common in all our lives. I’ve seen it firsthand.
I’ve seen the parents who run their children around town so they can attend Jewish day schools, participate in Hebrew school activities on weekends and evenings, and participate in Jewish-oriented programming. All so their children – the next generation – will have a strong Jewish identity and foundation upon which to grow.
Or, our teens and young adults, who participate in chesed programs and tikkun olam projects, exemplifying Jewish values and displays of kindness. Not only do they brighten up the days of those they help, but they help make our community strong and their actions inspire others.
This Purim, we should celebrate. Not only the unseen miracles of Purim, of which there were many, but also the often-unsung forces that drive our Jewish community every day. The congregations and their members who welcome newcomers into their fold. The parents who instil Jewish values and identity in our children. The youth who devote their time to helping those less fortunate and repairing the world one small step at a time. These are the tangible forces of our modern-day Purim, and they are miraculous in their own right.
There are many events around Purim, so go out and celebrate with friends, family, and your community. I will be celebrating with my Beth Tikvah family, and invite everyone to join. For more information about Beth Tikvah – and other – Purim programming and activities, please see the Jewish Independent’s Community Calendar, either in this issue and online.
Hofit Indyk is program coordinator at Congregation Beth Tikvah.