Happy Purim! A Day of Giving and Receiving with New Olim

As Jewish communities around the world are celebrating Purim, so are the many thousands of beneficiaries of the programs of The Jewish Agency.

It will be a very special Purim for the new olim for whom it will be the first time they celebrate it in Israel with all the immense fanfare that entails – parades, the streets filled with children in costume, the radio constantly playing holidays songs, while for some coming from remote communities, it will be the first time entirely.

You may find this surprising, but Purim is considered by many as the most holy Jewish holiday. It is believed that when the Messiah comes, all holidays will no longer be needed.

All, except for Purim.

The reason being, that Purim isn’t meant to simply mark a historic g-d given event and teach us its lesson, rather it is meant to teach us that what is most important, most basic and enduring, is our faith in g-d and our unity as people. It is believed that the salvation that took place on Purim, the reversal of fate from complete annihilation to salvation and strength,  didn’t derive from the prayers or actions of Queen Esther or her uncle Mordechai, rather from the fact that the Jewish communities, spread all across the exile of the Persian empire, were united as one in faith and prayer. Realizing the most fundamental commandants of loving g-d and loving your fellow man. And so the traditions of Purim – reminding us of the reversal (hence the costumes) are so full or righteous, faith filled and caring deeds – praying, reading the story, giving Tzedakah (charity) to the poor and Mishloach Manot (food care packages) to one another.

Hence, this tradition of unity is central in all our programming. Last week I visited our Etzion Campus in Jerusalem where 257 young adults make their first steps in Israeli society. All came alone to Israel and face many uncertainties and hardships. Yet, they were excited to lead a special tradition of giving, and prepared beautiful Mishloach Manot for lone olim soldiers. While they gave, they also received. As Israeli high school students and the staff of the Jewish Agency joined to make a surprise visit to them and give them Mishloach Manot. They were excited and thankful, that while they hardly know anyone in the country, people so cared about them.

Important to note that while we serve some 5,000 lone young olim annually, due to lack of funding we have at this very time 700 young adults on waiting lists, hoping to make Aliyah while joining these programs. That is why your support is so critical and we thank you for it!

 To give you a small glimpse into who these brave young people are, I am enclosing a picture of Shimon and Dana (center of photo).

Shimon is a 25 year old architects who made Aliyah from Mexico. He is so driven that he is choosing to volunteer to the army for a full service although he is exempt. As he speaks 5 languages, he hopes to serve in intelligence. When asked why he made Aliyah, he says “To put it in one sentence, so I can join in the building of Israel”.

Dana is a 23 year old economist from Moscow. She grew up attending the Jewish day school and going to Jewish summer camp. She feels she received so much and debated what would be the proper way to give back? To stay in Moscow or move to Israel? Her lack of faith in the regime led to her finally making the tough decision to come to Israel. Here she hopes she can give back.  

Thank you for all that you do for Israel and the Jewish people and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Happy Purim!