Embracing the Spirit of Purim

Last week, I reached out to you for suggestions on how Federation and the Jewish community could navigate the uncertain path ahead. Thank you so much to the many people who responded with your thoughts and insights. Please continue to send ideas. These are all appreciated.

Beginning tomorrow night, we will celebrate Purim as a Jewish community, a holiday that marks the Jewish triumph over a historic effort to exterminate the Jews in Persia. During one of the most critical moments of this story, Esther must decide if she is going to risk her safety and approach the king when uninvited. She must consider, as the text states, whether “this is the moment for which she was born” and act to save the Jewish people.

Most of us are never asked to take the level of risk that Esther undertook in that moment or that many in Israel are taking today. The precise task for which we were born is rarely clear. In fact, most of us go through life seeking the answer to this question.

We live in a moment of Jewish history, however, when the gravity of critical questions and their answers are weighing heavily on many of us. What must be done now? What can I do to make a difference?

I suspect many of us are grappling with what appears to be insurmountable challenges. And yet, it is this moment in time when every action becomes profoundly significant and impactful. We do not need to take deep personal risks (though some already do that) to make a difference.

Every act – I believe – has the potential for even greater impact. When so much is up in the air and when so many are feeling as if the ground is not solid under their feet, every act can have an outsized influence on another person and on our community.

As we celebrate Purim – a day in which the mitzvah (commandment) is to help the needy – I encourage each one of us to consider what act, no matter how small or large, we can undertake. Though we may have different priorities, capacities, and approaches to the world, every one of us can make a difference.

At Federation, we are honored to provide opportunities for those of all ages and abilities to make an impact on our local community. I invite you to embrace the spirit of Purim and join us for Federation’s annual Sara & Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Week from April 7th through 14th. Whether you prefer to volunteer on your own or with others in your network, there are many opportunities to give back.

I am grateful for your unwavering commitment to prioritizing the welfare of those who rely on us, and your ongoing acts of kindness. Thank you for continuing to be a thoughtful, generous, and caring community.

Shabbat Shalom,
Gil Preuss
CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington