Thursday, March 1, 2018

Today is Purim. Here is a Purim story

(last update: March 5,  2018)

Today, March 1, 2018,  is the Jewish holiday of Purim. This is the day each year (the 14th of the Hebrew month, Adar) Jews around the world celebrate how the Jewish people in ancient Persia (modern Iran--or, alternatively, modern Iraq-Iran) were saved from the genocidal scheme of the wicked Haman  (the Persian king's chief advisor). Haman wanted to kill, annihilate and destroy the Jews--including all the men, women and children. The king of Persia gave him permission to do that. 

But, through the efforts of a woman we call,  Queen Esther, Haman failed. Everything he wanted to do to the Jews was done to him and his family.

Purim is a happy day. It is a day when, in ancient Persia, fear and trembling were transformed into happiness and rejoicing.

To celebrate, each year on this Hebrew date, we read Meggilat Esther in public --the story of how Queen Esther saved us all. As part of this celebration, we dress up in costumes. We drink. We feast. We distribute gifts of food to our friends. We give food to the poor. 

In Israel--and, often, elsewhere in the world--we hold parades down a main street filled with children in costume. Many of these parades showcase giant parade floats depicting the participants of the Purim story--the beautiful Esther, the bad king Ahashverus, the wicked Haman and the wise Mordechai. It is a fun-filled family event.

We are called upon to be merry. Telling jokes isn't typically part of a family's Purim celebration. But, in the Purim spirit, jokes do get told.

I have found a joke for your merriment. I'm calling this joke a 'story' because it's about the old Soviet Union, which wasn't very kind to Jews. Since I have many readers who come to my blog from Russia--and since I live in a community here in Israel that has a strong Russian citizenry--I tell this Purim story to remind us all that the fears Jews of ancient Persia  suffered in our Purim story were felt every day for many Jews in the old Soviet regime. 

I found this Purim 'story' at the blogsite, elderzyion. It was posted there yesterday, February 28,  2018, under the title, "An oldie but goodie (Purim joke)".

If you live in Russia, or know about Jewish history in the old Soviet Union, you will appreciate this joke. In fact, it might be easy enough to understand even if you know knowing about Jewish life in the old Soviet Union. Indeed, the joke's punch-line reveals a reality Jews have lived with for millennia:

In the 1970's, a Russian school inspector is questioning the children. He points to one of the boys and says, "Who is your father?" 

The boy replies, "The Soviet Union." 

He then asks, "Who is your mother?" 

"The communist party," came the reply. 

"And what do you want to be when you grow up?" 

"I want to be a Stankhanovite worker for the glory of the state and the party." 

The inspector then points to one of the girls and asks, "Who is your father?" 

The girl answers, "The Soviet Union." 

"Who is your mother?"

"The communist party." 

"And what do you want to be when you grow up?" 

"A heroine of the Soviet Union raising lots of children for the state and party." 

The inspector looks round and sees a Jewish boy tucked away at the back trying to look inconspicuous. He points and says, "What's your name?" 

The boy replies, "Mendel Abramovitch." 

"Who is your father?" 

"The Soviet Union." 

"Who is your mother?" 

"The communist party." 

"And what do you want to be when you grow up?" 

Mendel replies, "An orphan."


Our Purim story did not, apparently, occur in a Soviet-like environment. Except for Haman, the Jews back then in Persia might have felt relatively safe and comfortable--until Haman. 

Jewish history is filled with dangers to Jews--and few places were more dangerous than the old Soviet regime. 

Today, many Jews from that old regime are in Israel. In a sense, they have been redeemed just like (perhaps) the Jews of ancient Persia were saved from Haman.

 Happy Purim!!!!

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