Sunday, March 4, 2012

Are You Friends with Esther?

[Come tomorrow, I'll post images of my OWN hamantaschen!]

As you all know, I work at the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education as their social media ninja (that's not the title on my business card, but come on). I was tapped to write the March newsletter bit on Purim, and this is what I came up with.

It’s the month of Adar, and that means it’s time for Purim, one of the most festive holidays in the Jewish calendar. Everyone is a’twitter with talk of mishloach manot (gift baskets), hamantaschen, costumes, festive meals, Megillat Esther readings, Purim shpiels, carnivals, and more. Commemorating a time when a young Jewish woman, Esther, rose to power to become Queen of Persia under the tutelage of her guardian Mordechai, the Purim story tells of Esther risking her life to save the Jews from the evil Haman. The story concludes with the Jews turning the tables on their enemies, who are punished in place of their intended victims. This miracle is the major theme of Purim, and it’s clear that — although not mentioned in the entirety of the Book of Esther — God is behind the scenes “pulling the strings.” The story of Purim gives us hope that no matter the circumstances, redemption is right around the corner. It took just one person — Esther — putting herself in harms way by speaking out against an imminent evil to save an entire people.

So what if the Purim story were unraveling in today’s times? Would Esther be blogging her tough decisions? Would Mordechai be writing on Esther’s Facebook wall “Risk your life! Save the Jews!”? And what about Haman, would he unfriend Esther after his plot was ruined?

The reality today is that you can find Pinterest boards full of images of delicious varieties of hamantaschen, costume ideas, and Purim decorations. You can hop over to YouTube and find plenty of Purim-themed videos or visit Facebook to “like” Queen Esther. You can even listen or watch the Megillah read online! But Esther probably would have used social media for more than just finding the fun and entertaining pieces of Purim.

In our modern, digitally social world, local and international events of persecution make it to the internet in no time. The internet is a great place to plan your Purim party or to connect with others about meal ideas, but it’s also a powerful means of social action. If you haven’t taken the time to check out how we’re using social media, we urge you to hop online and test the waters of Twitter or Facebook to see how you can impact change in a new, virtual environment. Whether it’s donating to an impactful organization or speaking out against injustices, you cannot imagine the power your virtual voice can have.

Be a modern Esther, and help the essence of Purim go viral! Best wishes for a festive Purim!

To be honest, I was surprised that my past writings on Purim are pretty nil. Have a favorite d'var or blog post written about Purim? Let me know!

Also, if you need a really good laugh, read this.