Defeating Hamanism

You know you’ve made it when… someone writes an angry letter to the editor?!? Check it out:

“One Jewish group seems to be trying to remove Judaism from Purim, recently “updating” the Purim story as a social justice story about Flint water.” - Detroit Jewish News 3/1/17 (opinion)

First of all, last year’s Purim Spiel wasn’t about Flint. It was about Flint and Detroit
And second, Purim is impossible to “update”, because Purim is timeless: it reveals deep truths that only feel more and more relevant. 

Purim isn’t about defeating Haman, it’s about defeating Hamanism, a force in every generation.


We thought we couldn’t top last year, but what has followed Nov. 8 provides endless material and a profound need for revelry. Not escapism - but a safe framework for facing our worst fears, so many of which seem to be coming true. 

It’s hard to imagine anything more absurd than the reality we are living through: a climate-change denier heading the EPA? IMPOSSIBLE! An enemy of public schools is Secretary of Education? INCONCEIVABLE! Don’t get me started on Commander-in-Chief...

Purim reminds us: the world is capricious. One minute we can be in good with the king (even paraded through town on horseback) and the next minute on the hit-list. Some say the Jewish community has internalized that message too deeply, focusing on threats over responsibility. Jews are in the tricky position of holding dissonant truths: we are (in varying degrees) not safe and yet we are obligated to leverage the power we have amassed.*

And there is another lesson we should be careful to question: the Purim story perpetuates the Rosa Parks myth**. If we are “updating” the Purim story in any way, it’s this: Esther is WE. Real social change is not accomplished by a sole person acting bravely -- it happens through organized people, organized action, and organized money.

We need you to do all three:

  1. GET ORIENTED on 4/27

  2. SIGN THE PLEDGE: Michigan Jews Stand in Solidarity with Arab, Immigrant, and Muslim Communities

  3. SUPPORT OUR WORK by giving or getting a donation

150 of you came together yesterday to celebrate Purim DJJ style: incredible food, incredible art, incredible performance, incredible crowd. Marni stepped out of Mordechai character to encourage us to take action for public schools and to help DJJ build capacity to meet this moment. Your beautiful faces looked like this:


Marni said that yesterday’s gathering was free of charge because it’s not about one event: we need to be all in to sustain the work DJJ does every day. Thank you so much to those of you who answered her call. We can’t do it without YOU: please consider making a one-time donation or becoming a monthly sustaining donor. We promise to use all of your contributions -- be they time, talent, or treasure -- wisely, gratefully, and always in the pursuit of justice. 

Esther may have gotten the job done, but it's much more fun when you organize in community. See you online, in the streets, and at the palace!

 May the Force Be With Us, R. Alana Alpert


* The Jewish community having built power as a collective is experienced differently by poor Jews, Queer and trans Jews, and Jews of Color.

** Rosa Parks wasn’t acting alone, she was a serious trained community organizer. 

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