Tonight, the Jewish community will come together to celebrate Purim by listening to a reading of the Megillah - the Book of Esther. It’s a joyous affair where children dress up as characters from the story to celebrate the courage and heroic deeds of Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, and many adults drink until they can’t tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman (Boo! Hiss!). Some synagogues and Jewish community centers will also stage carnivals, and everyone will have a good time.
But the holiday is about more than carnivals and costumes. It’s also a story about a successful interfaith marriage. The Jewish community was on the brink of annihilation, but when Ahasuerus, the King of Persia, found out his wife was Jewish, he cast his lot with the Jewish people and we were saved from destruction. Today’s edition of Metro New York features our own Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and his thoughts on the subject.
Purim reminds us of the importance of embracing our Jewish heritage, and it also offers an opportunity to reflect on the state of inclusion for the thousands of interfaith families around the world. Many institutions still put up barriers, treating intermarriage like treason. This is counter-productive to Jewish growth – we need to engage these families, not keep them away. It’s time we welcome interfaith families into the Jewish community, where their presence will add to the strength and diversity of the Jewish people.