Purim — it’s complicated

Purim — it’s complicated

Purim is not just a children’s holiday.

In fact, despite the near-irresistible cuteness of miniature Queen Esthers and pint-size Mordechais, and the lure of hamantaschen (because really there is nothing better than chocolate-covered chocolate ones), in some ways it’s not a children’s holiday at all.

As much as it is about the Jewish people’s strength and resilience, it is also about masking and unmasking, betrayal and abandonment, fear and revenge.

Our tradition takes Purim very seriously; we are told that it is like Yom Kippur, or, more accurately that Yom Kippur is like Purim. (C’purim. Kipurim. Yom Hakippurim.) The one holiday that will be left after the messiah comes will be Purim, we are told.

That might be why we are told to drink until we can no longer differentiate Haman’s name from Mordechai’s. This holiday is all about us – about people, about what we do to and for and against each other. Sometimes the truth behind the mask can be hard to handle.

But drinking that much is not good for us. It can be devastating when we also drive – and Purim is one of the few Jewish holidays when we can drive, whether or not we drink.

The Jewish Family Services of Bergen County and North Hudson, which just welcomed a new executive director (see page 6), hosts a monthly meeting of JACs, for Jews who are addicted to alcohol, have other chemical dependencies, or are related by love or blood to anyone who does. The group meets the first Wednesday of every month, at 7:30 p.m., at JFS’s Teaneck offices. For information, call (201) 981-1071.

We hope that no one will take Purim’s liberation of the Jewish people as a cue to further their own enslavement to alcohol, but instead will take the opportunity to think about freedom, about masks, about vengeance – and of course about adorable little kids and delectable hamantaschen. We wish all our readers a chag Purim sameach.