MembersPurim 5780: A Time for Sober Thinking

America’s Jewish community must take Purim as a wake-up call, for the dangerous that faced our people then are again upon us.

By Stephen (Shaya) Silbiger | | Topics: Purim
Purim is a wake-up call for American Jews today.
Photo: David Cohen/Flash90

The pre-Yom Kippur atonement ritual of kaporos practiced by Ashkenazi Jews, in which a chicken is twirled over the head of the penitent, gave rise to one of the more biting Yiddish sayings. That saying which my late mother used to describe someone who is utterly clueless about a certain topic or situation is “that he understands as much as a chicken by kaporos.” That saying can be used to describe how much most non-Orthodox American Jews understands about Purim.

To most American Jews, Purim is the Jewish Halloween. It is a time for frivolity, masquerading and, all too often, drunkenness. The masquerading — which was not part of the original holiday — has made Purim popular among gays. LGBT Purim Bashes are now common in major cities and articles about Esther’s “coming out” are now easily found on the internet. Thus, part of the American Jewish community sees the holiday of Purim as an opportunity to mock the Jewish religion.

However, even many observant Orthodox Jews, mistake a secondary...

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