When we think of Purim, we think of gala celebrations – costumes, noisemakers, reading the megillah, eating hamantaschen, sending gift baskets to friends and even a bit of drinking and revelry.
But Purim has a serious side as well. On the day of Purim, this year, February 28, we must also perform the mitzvah of matanot la’evyonim – sending gifts to the poor.
Tradition teaches that one must send two items of food to at least one person to ensure that everyone has sufficient food for the Purim feast, to increase love and friendship between Jews, thereby dismissing Haman’s accusations that there is strife and dissension among Jews.
The concept has been expanded, and today, we offer help to all those in need.
Each year, the Community Relations Council (CRC) of the Jewish Community of Louisville chooses an organization or cause to support with a Purim drive to raise funds for matanot la’evyonim. This year the need in Haiti following January’s earthquake is acute, and CRC chose to direct its Purim to earthquake relief through “Hope for Haiti.”
The January earthquake, with its epicenter in Port-au-Prince, left the capital city and its surrounding area devastated. There are many, many injured, and survivors were left without food, water or shelter. While aid is getting through now, it is still not adequate to address the need; and the destruction is so extensive that this already impoverished nation will need assistance for a long time to come.
Keneseth Israel and Temple Shalom were already working with “Hope for Haiti” prior to the quake, so it is a natural extension of this community tikkun olam project to provide earthquake relief through this organization.
To help CRC support the Purim Earthquake Relief Drive, send your Purim contributions to the Jewish Community of Louisville, 3630 Dutchmans Lane, Louisville, KY 40205. You can also donate online. Be sure to indicate that your contribution is for the 2010 Purim appeal.
Leon Wahba is chair of the Community Relations Council. For more information about CRC or the matanot la’evyonim program, call the JCL office, 451-8840.