As we begin the month of March, we find ourselves about to enter a time of communal celebration and storytelling. Both Purim, which we will celebrate on Sunday, March 20th and Passover, which begins on Friday night, April 22nd tell great stories of deliverance from destruction against incredible odds and a people joining together to praise with gratitude. Whether it is the defeat of the evil ruler, Haman, or God’s deliverance of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage at the edge of the Red Sea, these holidays celebrate the gift of community.
At the Purim carnival, we make noise, eat cookies, stomp out the name of the villain Haman and most importantly, we celebrate our deliverance together. The Passover Seder is also a communal experience, a home based meal that reenacts the miracle of redemption and the birth of a free people. The key to both of these festivals is that they provide an opportunity to study, learn and observe in the sacred presence of others.
The Passover Haggadah asks us to see ourselves as if we were personally freed from Egypt. Purim asks us to be so overjoyed at the rescue of some Babylonian Jews two thousand years ago that we celebrate until we cannot distinguish the face of the enemy from the hero. In both, we observe as if our own family story was mingled with the historical, mythic and religious past of our ancestors. The story of the people of Israel becomes our own story as well.
As we come to these spring holidays, I want to reflect on the unique pleasure of being your rabbi this past year. But, even more than worshipping together on Friday night, studying with our Torah Study group on Saturday morning, or learning from your children on Sunday, perhaps the greatest highlight has been the personal time and the opportunities to get to know so many of you. It would have been easy to dismiss me and to say that the Interim Rabbi would only be here one year so why invest personal time and energy? But, my experience has been the opposite. I have been hosted in many homes, have gone for some wonderful walks and have had some inspiring Shabbat afternoon lunches. The center of each of these experiences was the time that I spent getting to know some of you personally, to see this community through your eyes and to hear a bit of your unique stories. There is no higher honor and joy for me as a rabbi. But, we are now two thirds of the way through our time together.
If we have not yet had the chance to sit for a cup of coffee and a personal conversation I truly hope that we will have that opportunity. I will be in Lafayette eight more weekends and would love to get to know you. Please feel free to email me directly at RabbiBZimmerman@gmail.com so we can set a time to meet on one of my visits.
In addition, please bring your family on Sunday morning, March 20th to the community Purim Celebration when we will celebrate with the temples from Alexandria and Lake Charles. We will learn with a group of rabbis, children will play and together we will sing and read from the Megillah, the scroll that contains the story of Purim. Please also come on Saturday night, April 23rd, for our second night community Passover Seder. Information about both events events can be found in this newsletter.