THE GIFT OF DOING GOOD
This week we celebrated the holiday of Purim, which is literally the holiday of joy. In Israel, this holiday is celebrated with crazy parties, dancing in the streets, huge carnivals and fairs, and the giving of Mishloah Manot. In Israel the best and most powerful part of celebrating Purim is seeing how so many people fulfill one of the greatest mitzvot of the holiday; by giving gifts and Mishloah Manot to people in need in our society. Every Purim, many organizations and voluntary associations in Israel donate thousands of packages of food and gifts to children fighting cancer, they donate to units in the army, to people with special needs to name just a few.
In my city of Holon, every Purim we have this huge carnival, called ‘Adloyada’ which is basically a parade that involves whoever wants to join. People with special needs make huge sculptures, many dance studios do special routines for the festival and youth movements march for fun to spread the joy and ruah throughout the city.
But Purim is not all that Israelis celebrate during the month of Adar. In Israel during the month of Adar is a day called Yom HaMa’asim Hatovim ,“Good Deeds Day” is celebrated annually. This day was initiated in 2007 by the Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison. The purpose of this day is to raise social awareness and the values of charity and giving to others. It consists of different activities throughout the country and opportunities to help many organizations with their projects. When this day started in 2007, there were seven thousand volunteers from one country- Israel. Last year, marking its 10th year anniversary, there were a million and a half volunteers who participated from 93 countries around the world. An annual almost global day, dedicated to good actions of kindness and charity.
In my high school we have an annual good deeds fair, that has a variety of stations that encourage everyone to come and take part in ‘doing good’. I think that an event like this is the perfect example of how powerful joining a community can be when everyone gets together to just do good.
When most of us think of Israel, we think of this perfect country; with no hunger, poverty, youth addiction issues, homophobia, racism and other social issues. Yet, these problems happen in Israel as well, just like in Toronto or the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s hard to think about Israel in this way, and we think that if you love Israel, you have to love also the things that require improvement. That is why many social organizations are needed to fight these issues. These organizations improve our society in small yet essential ways.
Canadians are not strangers to the concept of giving and celebrating either. And I was happy to see that the spirit of Purim that I know from back home is alive and well here in Toronto. I enjoyed celebrating Purim in your community, and experiencing the holiday in some different ways. I hope that we were able to bring some of the values of joy and giving from Purim in Israel as well.
We wanted to mention two upcoming programs happening at Beth Tikvah. The first is tonight at 7:30pm. Join us at our adult program “Taste of Israel” where we will engage in a contemporary discussion regarding feminism in Israel today. Then on Monday, March 5 join us for our last installment of Central Texts of Zionism with Rabbi Grover @ 7:30 pm. Hope to see you there!