This Shabbat is known as SHABBAT ZACHOR. Zachor means memory. We are encouraged to remember on the sabbath before Purim the wrongs done to the Israelites by the Amelikites as they crossed the desert. The link to Purim is justifying rage and self defence against those who hurt us. It’s an interesting ‘reminder’ now. Zachor [remembrance] is a mitzvah that has made modern Jews uncomfortable. The natural desire to forget and be happy collides with the ongoing pain of memory and analysis. When asked why President Ronald Reagan in 1985 initially declined to visit the Dachau concentration camp, a presidential aide explained that the President was an “up” type of person and did not like to “grovel in a grisly thing.”
We Liberals have always have an ambivalent relationship with Purim, the ’season of levity’ as Rabbi John Rayner called it. The flamboyant violence offended early Liberals. We now engage in Megillah reading (a slightly edited, less excessive version) and generally a festive Spiel and costume party. Hadas Esther’s Hebrew name means hidden. God is absent entirely from the Megillah of Esther. It makes for an interesting holiday.
Truthfully whatever our feelings about Purim and remembering former oppression, we would all agree that memories make up our Jewish life and experience. Our Jewish memories are often those most exuberant like. Purim and those most filled with joy. We know the community thrives on these as well as us personally. We appreciate all those who continually contribute to synagogue life and make it thrive.
Past Purim memories:
As March is Free Wills Month. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/donate/leave-legacy/free-wills-month/ it seems appropriate to ask you to consider remembering FPS in that way. I couldn’t resist thinking of the synagogue. All we do and all we need.
Shabbat Shalom and looking forward to seeing those who do Purim next Wednesday at 6.30pm with a Tot tea at 5.30pm for Tots, parents and grandparents.