Mishloach Manot and the Meaning of Purim
This past weekend we celebrated the Jewish festival of Purim full of costumes, hamentashen and the revelry of Purim carnivals and megillah readings. In addition to the festive celebration, at Purim we are commanded to give mishloach manot, gifts of food to one and other as well as giving gifts to the poor. One reason that we give misholoach manot is to create unity in our community. Haman, the villain of the Purim story, thought he could destroy the Jews because they were scattered and separate from one another. Queen Esther, who ultimately saved the Jews, knew that the people had to be unified to overcome the evil decree and brought them together through a common cause.
Over the past two weeks we at JSS have created unity in our Madison Jewish community as we fulfilled the commandment of giving mishloach manot. JSS worked with Congregation Sha’arei Shamayim, where the students at the religious school, made 20 mishloach manot packages filled with fruit, hamentashen and handmade cards for clients at JSS. Senior services social worker, Maya Garbuz, and I took these packages and have been delivering them to members of our community who are ill, in mourning or have limitations that make coming to community celebrations difficult or impossible. Through these acts of kindness we connected children with the elderly, created collaboration between two Jewish institutions and brought many who would have otherwise be isolated into the communal celebration of the holiday.