On Sunday 4:30 p.m. 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (20th of March) I went on another great trek with my children through the streets of Budapest. Once again, there was a buzz of excitement for the children, in the journey, full of youthful expectations. You see, we were going to one of the hotspots in the local Jewish scene; and we were going to celebrate Purim with Mordechai, Esther and co., together with our wonderful community in Teleki ter synagogue. Once again, our community celebrated in style!
Purim has always been a favourite, carnivalesque festival but when we celebrate, party takes on new meaning. For when we celebrate, we blend a variety of disparate “simcha” genres; the historic with the new, the religious with the secular and the holy with the profane. People of different ages and religious convictions join together and partake in the pure experience of the day, and when that day is Purim … (See Glossary for Purim)
But this year’s Purim was special. Why is this so, you may ask. Well, allow me to digress.
As you may have noticed, our synagogue is in the midst of exciting times. We are experiencing a true rebirth, a genuine renaissance in all aspects of the word. This rebirth, was slow in starting a few years back, but has skyrocketed in the last couple of years.
In the earlier years, we celebrated our major festivals in my home. The celebrations were nice, of course, but it did not have the same flavour of a Shul event as it does when actually celebrated in shul.
Approximately one year ago we renovated a room in the shul which now functions as a miniature community hall, where we are able to host events. In this newly renovated room, we were able to host festivals in the synagogue itself.
The first event that we hosted, since the renovation of the room, was Purim. Therefore, this Purim fest, was the first event that we celebrated for the second year running. This year’s Purim would be the test of our past Purim, in terms of attraction and growth. Attraction – how many people were inspired to come and to bring their friends on the basis of last year’s Purim. Growth– what did we learn and how have we grown spiritually as a community since last year’s Purim?
Thus it was natural that I went to Shul full of anticipation. But, after all said and done, what can I say was the result of the Purim festival? Well for one, in the attraction department, attendance was over double of the year before, and in contrast to our humble beginnings, the shul was full with wonderful little children of all ages, shapes and sizes.
But success should not be measured in mere numbers. We need to take into account quality as well – i.e. we need to take the spiritual growth factor into account and in this aspect as well we can hold our heads up with pride. The day began with prayer (Mincha) and Megilla reading followed by dancing to live music drinking and merriment. This year no one did chair/sky diving, nor did anyone want to introduce his head to the floor, and although we still knew that Mordechai was the hero, and Haman the villain (see glossary), nonetheless the merriment continued unabated throughout the event.
Special thanks to R. Yehoshua Witt for reading the Megillah and for performing spiritual entertainment with song and soul. And thanks to all who contributed towards making the festival truly wonderful.
Shul – Synagogue
Megilla – scroll (in this article referring to Megillas Esther – the scroll of Esther read on Purim)
Simcha – Joy
Purim – a festival (14th of Adar) celebrated by eating and drinking, sending gifts (which often come with receiving gifts), giving money to the poor and hearing the Purim story in the scroll of Esther. The villain attempted to annihilate the Jewish people, but thanks to G-d and the hero’s of the story the Jews were spared. As a result of this, we have the unique requirement not just to be jolly on Purim, but we are expected to drink and get inebriated. In fact we are required to celebrate with drinking, until we no longer can distinguish between how “blessed is Mordechai” and how Cursed is Haman”.
Mordechay and Esther – the protagonists/hero’s of the Purim story
Haman – the villain of the Purim story who attempted to annihilate the Jewish People.
On the Purim