Community News

Channeling Esther this Purim

The events that inspire our annual celebration of Purim occurred long ago, but sadly, the story still feels current.

In essence, the Purim story is about a big bully:  Haman. What kind of bully was he? He was an anti-Semite who wanted to massacre the Jews of ancient Persia. Throughout history, there have been many Hamans—Hitler is just one prominent example. But sometimes there isn’t one single person leading the movement. Take, for example, the escalation of terror and anti-Semitism in France. France has multiple Hamans whose words and acts of hate are not just killing innocent victims, they’re making French Jews feel like they have no choice but to leave the only home they’ve ever known.

In the Purim story, Esther stands up against Haman, turning him in to King Ahashuerus so he cannot carry out his cruel plans. But with growing numbers of Hamans in France, one person simply cannot challenge them all. And we’re here in L.A., so how can we let our French Jewish brothers and sisters know that they are not alone?

We can participate in a French Jewish custom.

Here in the United States, when we hear the Purim Megillah read to us, we stamp out Haman’s name by booing, shaking groggers and making noise. In France, children are hands-on in a different way. They write Haman’s name on smooth stones and knock them together so that his name eventually rubs off.

In the spirit of solidarity, I encourage you to grab some stones and instead of Haman, write the word “hate” on them. Then smash it out. Channel Esther for our French family, and for the hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world who are experiencing “Haman’s” wrath.