Purim 2021: Celebrating properly during COVID

A few words come to mind when I think about Purim: Simcha, joy, revelry and partying. Traditionally, the holiday is communal in nature; the celebration includes eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of friends.

We deliver personalized mishloach manot, usually consisting of homemade delicacies, and we come together to listen to the Megillah reading. We delight in making noise whenever the evil Haman’s name is mentioned, although to some it will be merely a cacophony of sound. Purim in a perfect world, highlights the importance of community.

This year’s celebration will be unique and different. We won’t be delivering mishloach manot to people’s homes or joining together for a mass purim seudah. Shul attendance will be less than usual as many people will refrain from attending in person and will listen to the Megillah over Zoom.

However, the one constant is the importance of community, especially in these difficult times.

In Persia during the reign of Achashverosh, Jews from all walks of life lived in peril.  Haman’s evil plot didn’t differentiate between religious and secular or Sefardim and Ashkenazim. In spite of our differences, we collectively rallied around Queen Esther and we ultimately succeeded in changing the king’s decree.

Hashem’s involvement remained hidden, although traditionally the first word in every column in the Megillah begins with the word hamelech — the king, but secretly relates to Hashem, the king of the universe.

Although there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t let down our guard just yet. Thus, this year creates a unique challenge to foster a spirit of Purim within guidelines and parameters that will ensure everyone’s safety.

Purim Sameach,
Rabbi Jack Engel

About the Author
Rabbi Jack and his wife, Miriam have reinvigorated Anshei Emuna, a Modern Orthodox Synagogue located in Delray Beach, Florida, in the ten plus years they have been at the Shul, through their experiences gleaned from serving in pulpits in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. They are advocates of a modern Orthodoxy, being open minded, yet adhering to the integrity of halacha. They believe that being an “ohr lagoyim” refers first and foremost to the entirety of our collective Jewish family.
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