Trumping on Jewish Graves: Purim fest 2017

Purim Eve 2017: Queen Esther was never in the palace. Shushan is on fire. Jared Kushner is definitely not Mordechai. Melania Trump might be Vashti. King Ahashverosh has completely lost the plot. And Haman has sparked a nationwide FBI search for his grave toppling and bomb threat calling.

Purim is arguably the premiere “they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat” holiday on the Jewish calendar and the custom is to get so drunk we don’t know the difference between Haman and Mordechai.

I think the mitzvah this Purim should be to abstain and stay sober. Our genetically inherited tribal antennas are being triggered like it’s 1939.

According to a Buzzfeed reporter, the Don has already attempted to explain it all away. Apparently, we Jews have been going around trampling on our dead and making prank calls to JCCs to make the Alt-Right look bad.

David Duke on Twitter agrees: “President Trump, do you think it might be the Jews themselves making these calls to get sympathy to push their ethnic agenda?”


The Jew is a historically hunted species and we know how to hide: under the floorboards, in attics, forests and in sewer systems. We collect passports and fake documents. We dye our hair blond or blue to blend; we convert, we give our children nice sounding non-Jewish names; we become self-hating Jews and Israeli flag burners.

I grew up knowing that one day, I too could be so hated and most probably hunted. This template is both a gift and curse from my ancestors; a genetically modified genome that was bonded to my DNA eons ago.

The hunting for my grandmother and her family began during WWII in Slovakia. In 1944 they were caught and thrown onto a train. Upon arrival at Auschwitz my great-grandparents and their youngest sons were gassed and cremated. Trude survived together with her sister Lily, thanks to a kind woman who taught then how to boil potato skins in the snow and play dead. The only other family to survive arrived in the U.K a few years before with the Kindertransport.  After liberation, Trude left Europe as a displaced person and refugee and never looked back.

My American Jewish AND Jewish American friends are in complete shock. They tell me about their local jewish community centers being evacuated. Of mothers who are worried that their children have too Jewish sounding names. Of swastikas being washed off walls, doors, and subway cars. Some are thinking seriously about leaving the country. Most are just waiting for answers. A few actually believe that Ivanka will come out of hiding and rescue her kingdom.


The miracle of Purim was that of nahafochu, Hebrew for “a complete turn around”. The decree of death for the Jews of Shushan masterminded by Haman was nullified and a new decree was ordered giving the Jews back their lives. So does history repeat itself? In the case of nahafochu, let us really hope so! Back in Shushan, when we were at our lowest moment of greatest breakdown and everything appeared in the negative, a new reality emerged. The bottom line for Purim 2017 is this: our nahafochu is actually the only certainty we have in these most uncertain times.

About the Author
Michalya Schonwald Moss is a social impact & entrepreneurship consultant living in Johannesburg.
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