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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A light rain fell on the East Coast the other evening.

It was just enough to dampen roads.

But to most of the Jewish students out collecting matanot l’evyonim, the raindrops weren’t going to dampen their spirit of purpose.

Indeed, some already were donned in their Purim costumes. If anything, an umbrella opened up here and there as protection against the rain.

How symbolic is the action of collecting for the poor while dressed in Purim finery or, in this case, if we can invent a word, “fun-ery”?

Let these students be an uplifting example for us all.

We, like you, know the threats. We read of the now 100 or so bomb threats that have caused evacuations of Jewish Community Centers locally and all over the nation. We saw, like you, the images of overturned cemetery stones.

In recent years, we’ve seen how an Iran that has made no secret of its desire to destroy Israel was empowered by a bad nuclear deal. Meanwhile, we watched as the words Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) unlocked a figurative vault of verbal abuse and threats toward Jewish students on American college campuses.

The point is, we dress up, we read the story of Queen Esther, one of our people’s most courageous role models, we share a seuda together, give mishloach manot and tzedakah.

We are not downplaying the emotional duress of those who had to evacuate Jewish buildings. And we can understand how difficult it must have been for parents to explain to their children why they had to leave their friends and teachers at school unexpectedly and suddenly.

Yet, it’s those same children who will dress up for Purim. Because on Purim, our children become super heroes, Ninja Turtles, IDF soldiers and Queen Esthers.

Because when it’s raining outside...

We open up our umbrellas.

With the strength of Esther and Mordechai as our examples, may this Purim be one of special meaning, the freedom to be who we are as Jews, be it in New Jersey, the nation, Israel or the world.

Have a freilichen Purim!