March E-Connect

Mishloach Manot and the Meaning of Purim

Dear Friends,

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.

This work of creating connections and providing support is the heart of what Jewish Social Services does. It is a privilege for me to have joined the staff at JSS as the new community Chaplain. In my first few months of my new position I have met many people and have had the honor of hearing their stories as they meet the challenges facing them on their life journey. I am here to provide spiritual care and presence to people in the Jewish community who are not affiliated with a synagogue. I ask you to help me connect with those people in need of support by sharing my contact information with them and by sharing your ideas about spiritual care needs in our community with me.
Rabbi Renee Bauer
Director of Chaplaincy and Outreach

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