Inner Reflection on Purim
Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / Inner Reflection on Purim

Inner Reflection on Purim

Feb 27, 2018


Everyone loves Purim because it is such a festive and joyful holiday, with costumes and homantaschen, megillah readings and silly shpiels, gift giving and tzedakah. It is almost uncanny that a book as irreverent as the Megillah of Ester was included in our Bible. The name of God is not even in the story!

The characters in the Megillah are very extreme, which is what makes the story both funny and entertaining: The King is a fool who can be manipulated by anyone, Mordecai is perfectly good, Ester is a gorgeous heroine and Haman is completely evil. And let us not forget Vashti—a feminist before her time, because she refused to dance with only her crown on in front of the King’s friends and courtiers.

But what if there is a Haman inside of each of us? My colleague Rabbi Amy Eilberg cites Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev (18th century Ukraine) as he addresses this very question, saying: “Not only are Jews commanded to wipe out Amalek (who is the equivalent of Haman), but each Jew has to wipe out that negative part that is called Amalek in his or her heart. So long as the descendants of Amalek are in the world—and each of us is also a small world, when the power of evil arises in each of us, Amalek is still in the world, then the reminder, ‘to wipe out Amalek’ calls out from the Torah.”

Rebbe Yitzhak is referencing our most cruel persecutor in the Torah, Amalek, who was said to purposefully attack our ancestors from the back, thus harming the most vulnerable—the aged, the children, the disabled. Torah teaches us to “remember to blot out” the name of Amalek. Haman is seen as another manifestation of Amalek, as are all villians in history intent on destroying the Jewish People. That is why we shout “Boo!” when we hear his name.

Purim, then, takes on new depth, where we are not only prodded to fight against evil forces in politics and society but we are also reminded to confront the capacity for cruelty that we each have inside of ourselves.

But don’t panic! A willingness to admit that we may each have a bit of Haman inside of us is important, so that we are on the lookout to keep our worst impulses at bay and under control. But remember that we certainly have a Mordecai and an Ester and Vashti inside of us too. Sometimes we are utterly wise and courageous. There are moments when we feel deeply faithful and religious and hopefully most of the time we overflow with goodness and kindness.

Purim comes this year at the end of February and the beginning of March. Like so many other Jewish holidays, you can find it at the next full moon. As our people have done for millennia, let us rejoice in the survival of our people against those who have sought to harm us and be inspired to recognize, nurture and celebrate our inner Esters and Mordecais.

Happy Purim 2018!

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Jul 5

With 100 Years of Excellence in Senior Care, Los Angeles Jewish Home Transitions to New Name More Reflective of the Broad Spectrum of Senior Care Offerings Available to All

With a new name and continued focus on meeting diverse senior needs, Los Angeles Jewish Health meets seniors where they are in life, providing a customized senior experience. (RESEDA, CA – July 5, 2022) As it continues to build on more than a century of providing an array of high-quality residential living options and care for Southern California seniors, the Los Angeles Jewish Home is unveiling a new name: Los Angeles Jewish Health. The updated identity reflects Los Angeles Jewish Health’s commitment to offering area seniors a full complement of exceptional programs and services and a comprehensive continuum of care, whether that care is at home, in the community, or on one of their beautiful campus settings. “Over the years, as the needs of our community members have expanded and changed, we have evolved, too, expanding the scope of healthcare services we provide. It is now the right time to transition to a name more reflective of the vast array of senior care services and living options available through Los Angeles Jewish Health, while still remaining true to our mission and Jewish values,” said Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of Los Angeles Jewish Health. Los Angeles Jewish Health is a national leader in senior health and wellness. Established in 1912 in East Los Angeles to assist Jewish men seeking shelter, today Los Angeles Jewish Health cares for a diverse group of thousands of seniors each year through independent housing, adult day care, skilled nursing facilities, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, and more. What began as a modest residential facility at the turn of the previous century has grown into a leading senior health system, providing for a rapidly growing elder population with a broad range of geriatric and specialty healthcare needs. By 2030, one in five Americans are projected to be older individuals. Seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of this population and are expected to increase fivefold over the next 30 years, from four million in 2000 to 21 million in 2050.“Shifting demographics demand that we sharpen our focus to ensure we are an available senior care resource for every member of our community,” Surowitz said. “As we have for more than 100 years, we look forward to contributing Los Angeles Jewish Health’s extensive experience and medical expertise toward better health outcomes for all seniors.” About Los Angeles Jewish Health: Founded in 1912, and formerly known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home, the non-profit Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest single-source provider of comprehensive senior healthcare services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. Thousands of seniors benefit from the Los Angeles Jewish Health’s community-based and in-residence care and services. Programs include: PACE (A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly); hospice; palliative medicine; community clinics; short-term rehabilitation; and acute psychiatric care. Four campuses (Eisenberg Village, Grancell Village, Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, and Fountainview at Gonda Westside) serve seniors with options for independent living, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s disease and memory care. In addition, Los Angeles Jewish Health is home to the Annenberg School of Nursing.
Read More
Mar 15

Los Angeles Jewish Health Resident and Holocaust Survivor Celebrates Bat Mitzvah, and 92nd Birthday, during 100th Anniversary of the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah

(RESEDA, CA – March 15, 2022) History will be made at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Thursday, March 18 as beloved resident and Holocaust survivor Frieda Thompson turns 92 on the same day she will be called to Torah for her Bat Mitzvah. This date also marks the 100th anniversary of when Judith Kaplan, at age twelve, became the first American girl to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on March 18, 1922. Frieda Thompson, whose parents were murdered by the Nazis, still recalls that one of her mother’s final actions was to ensure her brother was called to Torah for his Bar Mitzvah even as there was chaos all around. Frieda studied for her Bat Mitzvah a few years ago, but COVID-19 prevented gathering as a community at that time. Now, with family flying in for the big day, Frieda will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah during the weekly Shabbat Eve. Service, in the Weinberg Courtyard of the Jewish Home, in front of loving family, caring staff, and dozens of fellow Jewish Home residents. When asked what this day means to her, Frieda offers, “Moses was loyal to his family and to the Jewish people. I too have always felt loyal to my family and the Jewish People.” In commenting on the significance of this lifetime milestone Rabbi Karen Bender commented, “As a small child, Frieda was forced to raise her hand and call out ‘Heil Hitler’. Today her voice rings out as a cherished leader among her peers.” Note: Media interested in attending the Service/Bat Mitzvah must be fully vaccinated/boosted/masked – and must RSVP in advance.
Read More
Mar 12

Los Angeles Jewish Home Accepts New Resident Applications

After pandemic-related pause, premier senior living facility reopens its doors (RESEDA, CA – March 12, 2021) The Los Angeles Jewish Home announced it is accepting applications for new residents, as well as participants in its community-based programs, after an extended pause in admissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the nationwide shutdown resulting from the coronavirus. Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of the Jewish Home, says welcoming new seniors will enable the organization to continue its century-long tradition of providing for the region’s frail elderly. "Seniors in Los Angeles depend on us for care. During COVID, ensuring their continued health and safety meant refraining from bringing people in. But now that 99 percent of our residents (as well as the large majority of our staff) has been fully vaccinated, we’re relaunching the admissions process so we can serve even more members of the community." The Home has immediate openings for seniors who need hands-on skilled nursing assistance. "The Jewish Home typically has wait lists for available spaces in our skilled nursing facility; it’s uncommon to have availability as we currently do," Surowitz says. "This represents a rare opportunity for people to get into the Home now, before we reach capacity, which will happen quickly." With the easing of the pandemic, the Jewish Home is also welcoming seniors to its Brandman Centers for Senior Care, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Through the program, residents and seniors who live on their own receive medical services, physical therapy, social services, and nutritional counseling, as well as exceptional adult day healthcare that engages them intellectually, physically, and socially. Applicants to the Jewish Home have access to a broad range of programs and services beyond PACE and skilled nursing. From short-term rehab to hospice, independent living, home health, and memory care, the Jewish Home provides support to residents at their varying levels of need. Through the Jewish Home, seniors are also eligible for the organization’s new Brandman Health Plan. Designed for the chronic patient with special needs, the plan offers benefits to anyone in Los Angeles County who is Medicare-eligible and has diabetes, chronic heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, or dementia. Seniors and their families can reach out to the Jewish Home for more information about current openings and availability. "We’re here for new applicants, whoever they are and whatever their needs," Surowitz says. "We look forward to learning how we can help."
Read More