Temple Adat Elohim


MARCH 2016


From the Rabbi’s Desk

Judaica Shop

They attacked us; we beat them! Let’s eat and drink! Is that all there is to Purim? Who doesn’t like a good party? Who doesn’t like an opportunity to dress in costume and enjoy a night of festivity, a night to escape the realities of the world? Which kids don’t like a carnival, and permission to shout in the sanctuary? Yes, of course Purim is many peoples’ favorite holiday. In fact, the Talmud teaches us that in the time of the Messiah all Jewish holidays will cease to be celebrated except for Purim – Purim is eternal. One of my favorite contemporary Jewish poets, Danny Siegel, once wrote, “If I were Chief Rabbi of the world – I would abolish Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av and replace Shabbas with a biweekly Purim – with masks and noise and a mound of hamentaschen and all the children of Theresienstadt to fill the streets with games and narishkeit. ” Although we treat Purim as a fun children’s holiday, in reality, it raises some very difficult and important questions; questions that the Jews of Shushan had to ask, and questions that we are asking still. 1. When Esther first goes to the palace, she hides her Jewish identity from everyone. When is it okay to hide your Jewish identity? 2. On one level it seems that the Jews are totally accepted in Shushan, but then suddenly Haman arises and claims that, “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other people, … whose laws are different from those of any other people … it is not in your majesty’s interest to tolerate them.” This speech has been used against the Jewish people wherever we have lived. Is it being used in the United States today? If so, against whom? How secure are we as Jews in the United States? In Europe? Some of those questions include:

3. Vashti, the first queen, refuses the kings order to “display her beauty” to the people and officials. She is often held up as an early feminist. Yet Esther, the heroine of the story, uses her beauty and sexuality to gain power. What does it mean to be a feminist today? What is the role of “good looks” in our world today? Is it different for men and women? Are women still objectified? Does a person’s looks make a difference in their ability to rise to a position of power? If so, how do we change this as a society? 4. Mordechai says to Esther, “Do not imagine that you of all the Jews will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter. … And who knows, perhaps you have attained royal position for just such a crisis.” Esther responds by saying, “I will go to the king… and if I am to perish, I shall perish.” When are you willing to take risks for your family? Your community? Your people? Are you willing to perish to protect your family? Your people? Others? What ideals, what community, is worth potentially dying for? Do you know your purpose in life? These are just some of the questions that Purim and the Book of Esther raise for us. I hope that you will take some time to discuss them with your friends and family. As you can see, this holiday is much more than, “They attacked us; we beat them! Let’s eat and drink!” I hope that you will join us as we celebrate Purim on Wednesday, March 23rd, at 7:00 p.m., to enjoy the festive and reflect upon the serious.

HOURS Tuesday – Thursday 11:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. Wednesdays and Thursdays 3:30 – 5:00 P.M. FRIDAY Before Shabbat services,

6:30 P.M. – 7:25 P.M. or by appointment: Paula Kraft (805) 493-1749

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Rabbi Andrew Straus


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