Seaside Jewish Community Celebrates a Day of Joy and Hope | Way of life
Recently, Jews around the world joined in the holiday festivities of Purim – a celebration of how Jews survived the murderous decree of Persian King Ahasurerus thousands of years ago.
At the Seaside Jewish Community in Rehoboth Beach, religious school children, their parents and teachers celebrated in a Purim carnival with music and crafts. This Wednesday evening, the very day of the celebration, members of the congregation laughed and mingled in the synagogue while singing parts of the Megillah (scroll or book) of Esther, singing and watching a humorous play , “Purim goes to the cinema”.
In the play, titled Purim Shpeil, Queen Esther, with the encouragement of her cousin Mordechai, persuades King Ahasuerus of Persia not to kill the Jews. Since Queen Esther herself was a Jewess assimilated to the king’s court, her courage has been noted in modern biblical literature. The Persian king gave in and the Jews were saved.
At the annual celebration, actors are dressed in ridiculous costumes while onlookers cheer and boo. Organizers said it was truly a joyful occasion, reliving an event believed to have taken place around 465 BC.
“Purim is a fun and joyful holiday,” said Rabbi Julie H. Danan of Seaside Jewish Community. “It’s also about facing threats and using joy to overcome them. It has been a day for Jews throughout the ages to laugh at anti-Semitism and prejudice. Comedy and laughter have often been our secret weapons of resilience in a harsh world.
Or, as Seaside member Cindi Silverblatt, playing Queen Esther in Purim Shpiel, told the familiar saying to Jews: “They tried to kill us. They missed. Let’s eat.”
But the day is also about community and people in need. This includes the Jewish tradition of giving, or tzedakah (charity). Members of Seaside also participated in this tradition. A tzedakah box to collect small donations for people in need was distributed. Participants were encouraged to make donations to help the Ukrainian people. The religious school has also coordinated with the synagogue’s hesed (kindness) and community committees to make Purim cards for members of the community who are sick.
“Purim is a day for frolicking and feasting. But equally important is a day for building community,” Danan says.
Seaside members participate in broad interfaith initiatives to enhance mutual understanding and acceptance throughout southern Delaware. His community service projects contribute to many worthy causes in the area. Additionally, Seaside Jewish Community presents the Jewish Film Festival with the Rehoboth Beach Film Society and presents frequent educational and academic programs open to the public.
Seaside’s mission is to support and foster Jewish identity by sponsoring religious, cultural, social and educational activities. The congregation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. For more information, visit the website at www.seasidejewishcommunity.com.