by Naomi Kellman ’25
Chag Purim, Chag Purim, Chag Gadol Hu La’Yehudim. Purim time, Purim time, a big festival for the Jewish people. But why is Purim such an important or popular holiday in Jewish tradition?
Last Thursday, TLS came together to celebrate Purim. Along with the four mitzvot obligated to fulfill on the holiday, one of the main values of Purim is known as v’Nahapoch hu, the reversal of fortune, and our community has seen a lot of alternate turns of events in the past couple years.
“I think for the rest of my life Purim will be a very emotional day for both good and challenging reasons,” High School Director of Student Life Josh Ull said. “Purim was really the day a few years ago when everything shut down [due to COVID]. In fact, we were all set: my office was full, things were ready to go and be delivered, programs were ready to be had. And the night before, we shut down.”
Yet, from this perspective, each step forward we have made as a kehilah has been that more remarkable. Keeping to its core principles, Purim celebrations at TLS are created with an emphasis on chesed and giving back to the community that we are so lucky to be part of.
“Traditionally, our school has done chesed both on campus and uniquely off campus,” Ull said. “Usually, we’ll go do a lot of service in the community. However, this year because of COVID, we moved that service, similar to last year, back here at school. We did a lot of volunteering in addition to all the other festivities and fun programming that we offered here at school.”
All different types of chesed programming were offered throughout the grades. In fact, there was so much chesed spirit in the air on Purim this year that the student body was able to create 200 sandwiches for local community refrigerators to assist those experiencing food insecurity, 300 hamantaschen for first responders at White Plains Hospital, 300 Birthdays in a Bag and birthday cards for children experiencing homelessness who are residing in the shelter system and 150 paracord bracelets for those serving overseas in the armed forces.
“For our purposes here on Purim, we had every grade doing something that was benefiting someone else,” High School Learning Specialist Rabbi Sandy Zisser said. “I think that the message is to celebrate Purim, but also remember those who can’t, and try to help them out.”
But when it comes to the day itself, students offered their own thoughts about their experiences.
“I really enjoyed the ability to celebrate Purim for ourselves and spend time with my peers,” sophomore Raya Sulman said. “And at the same time, we were able to make hamantaschen to assure that the community could do the same.”
As the song goes: mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha–when Adar comes, we cannot help but increase our joy.
“Adar is all about joy, Purim is all about joy,” Ull said. “I think that the day really needs to be about joy, something that we’ve all wanted and have been waiting for. We don’t need an excuse: this is the time.
“We are getting through the pandemic, we are pushing through, and the beautiful thing is not only are we experiencing the joy for ourselves, but that joy is reflective. We’re giving it out to others in the community and I think that’s really special.”