Shabbat Shalom – Friday, March 11, 2016

Purim is one of the great celebratory holidays of the Jewish calendar. It rejoices in the victory of the Jewish community of Shushan over their planned destruction by the Evil Haman.

What are our “Hamans” today? What or who is trying to destroy or endanger the Jewish people? One answer is that there are none – that we live in an amazing time in the course of Jewish history. Israel exists as a homeland of the Jewish people. Jews in America have achieved levels of influence and acceptance (A Jew is running for President) never seen.

Even with these historically significant achievements, there are threats.

This past week we saw the multiple attacks in Israel by Palestinian terrorists, one of which tragically took the life of an American citizen. Another attack against Jews took place in Uruguay.  Anti-Semitic graffiti was found on a synagogue in Los Angeles.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement continues to try to discredit and demonize Israel. This movement is especially active on our college campuses, where our emerging Jewish adults are exposed to these initiatives.

One of our most troubling “Hamans” today is the apathy too many Jews have about their own Judaism and their connection to the Jewish people and community.

Our Federation is working to fight and counter all these areas. We fund the Victims of Terror Fund in Israel that cares for those directly impacted by acts of terrorism. We work in combatting the BDS movement both on our local campuses and through our support of the Israel Action Network, a national approach towards fighting BDS. We generously support Day School education, synagogue religious school education, preschool education, young adult engagement, adult education, Jewish camping, Israel travel (including Birthright Israel), youth groups (including BBYO and synagogue movement groups) and so much more all to help bring Jews closer to Judaism.

In the story of Purim, the leaders of the community did not remain passive. Today, donors to our Federation are the “Esthers” and “Mordechais” against our modern day “Hamans”. On behalf of the thousands impacted by your support, THANK YOU.

Shabbat Shalom.

P.S.  Purim begins on the evening of Wednesday, March 23rd. Be part of your community by attending your synagogue’s Purim celebration. If you don’t belong to one, don’t let that stop you. Just show up!  And, you can show up on Sunday, March 20th when NextGen:PGH and lots of co-sponsors including the Federation, take to the streets, literally, to celebrate Purim. You can read about it and other Purim festivities by clicking here.

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