As we prepare to celebrate Purim next week, with the only masks required finally being those of the dress-up variety, we are all trying to embrace the hope that this represents for the end of the pandemic. Unfortunately, marring the simcha of Adar is the crisis that is continuing to unfold in Ukraine, which worsens every time we look at the news.
As we remain glued to our screens and devices 24/6, and take extra time to daven for those affected by the crisis, we hope to also fulfill the primary mitzvot of Purim in the merit of those who will be en route to safety this year, or who will be doing unimaginable things like taking up arms to protect their country, making them categorically unable to celebrate the chag as they might wish. We must think of them as we gather together and hear the Megillah, donate matanot l’evyonim, give mishloach manot, and eat a seudah. At every moment, it will likely be difficult to not think of those who have fled from their homes, are injured, mourning or separated from family, who are living with whatever possessions they could fit in one bag. We are hopeful that next year they will be able to celebrate Purim in the comfort of their homes, with loved ones, as we will this year.
In the coming weeks, our thoughts and tzedakah efforts will likely begin to turn toward more sophisticated efforts helping Ukrainian refugees in Israel and elsewhere, to help them prepare for Pesach in new, perhaps temporary homes. We hope that it will be our role to help alleviate the suffering of the many thousands of Jews and Ukrainians who have been displaced or separated from their families, like we did for Jews leaving the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.
While any efforts on our part don’t make up for the fact that this war is causing an almost unimaginable level of pain and suffering, it’s important that our community and individuals, as well as organizations, are doing as much as we can....and that’s a good thing going into Purim.