Happy Purim from ICWJ!
The following reflection on the connection between the Jewish holiday of Purim (which begins at sundown tonight) and worker justice was written by Rabbi Bonnie Margulis. For similar reflections on other holy days see the resources page!
Be happy, it’s Adar! Jews the world over greet each other with these words during this month, the Jewish month of Adar. For it is in Adar that the joyous holiday of Purim occurs. The story of Purim is told in the Biblical Book of Esther. It commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the evil plot of Haman to kill all the Jews of Persia.Purim is to be celebrated with joy and gladness, and with gifts of food given to one another and also gifts of food to the poor (Esther 9:22). Why both gifts to one another and gifts to the poor, asked the rabbis of old. The answer – gifts to the poor were to ensure that everyone had what they needed to make a feast to celebrate the holiday. Gifts to each other were so that the poor should not be embarrassed that they needed charity in order to make the feast.
Thus we learn that, even in the midst of our joy, we need to remember those less fortunate than ourselves and make sure their needs are met before we can move ahead with our celebration, and that help should come in a form that still preserves people’s dignity. Today we can fulfill this commandment through providing people the dignity of work, and ensuring that that work brings in a living wage, a safe working environment, access to health care, and the promise of a secure retirement.