Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to tell a story to the children of our nursery school. And I felt it a great challenge as I was asked to tell a story about Purim, the Jewish holiday which we celebrate tomorrow. And the reason why I felt it to be a great challenge is because the story of Purim is very much an adult’s story. Yes, I told the children about the “dopey” king, about the kind and caring queen whose name was Esther, and I told them about an evil man named Haman who wanted to do something bad to the Jews of Persia. But what I did not tell the young children is that this is a story about the intended genocide of our people.
This year Purim seems have deeper meaning and relevance for us. As some one hundred bomb threats have been called into Jewish centers and school, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, and swastikas drawn on the walls of local schools, how can we not relate these episodes to the story of Purim and the wicked Haman?
Yes, I am alarmed by these occurrences and by a spirit that seems to encourage such actions. But I find great comfort in the knowing that we are not alone in our concern.
The National Council of Churches has stated, “anti-Semitism has no place in our society. Eradicating it requires constant vigilance.” The Catholic Church issued a statement: “For Catholics, anti-Semitism is more than a human rights concern. It is viewed as blasphemy against God…it should not only concern Jews and Catholics, but all people.” And the United States Bishops’ Committee of the Catholic Church wrote, “The Catholic Church stand in love with the Jewish people in the current face of anti-Semitism.” And one other statement: The leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community expressed, “this attack is not just an attack on our Jewish brothers and sisters, but on our common community.”
Yes, amidst the ordeal of repeated stories of anti-Semitic episodes, there is comfort in the knowing that we Jews are not alone. This is not Nazi Germany. This is not government sponsored evil against Jews. We surely have many neighbors who are prepared to stand with us and who recognize our common humanity.
The Torah commands us “to wipe out the memory of Haman.” For sure, it will take more than children shaking their graggers as we read the Purim Megillah. It takes an enlightened society, where people recognize their commonality, to overcome the “Hamans” that we know in our world. I am confident that in spite of these horrific episodes, that goodness and light will yet prevail, not only for us, but for all good and decent people of all faiths and nationalities.