Matanot La’evyonim – Our Purim Responsibility

Purim begins Saturday night, and many of us will celebrate by dressing in costume (yes, even some adults – and you might catch me Sunday morning with a three cornered hat and a black cape), making a lot of noise as we drown out Haman’s name, indulging in some hamantaschen and maybe even indulging in some adult beverages.

It is a time of frolic and fun that we share with our friends. A gift for a friend is always appreciated – some more hamantaschen and perhaps some wine, maybe even a token from Israel.

However, there is another side to Purim. While we are supposed to celebrate and have a good time, we are also supposed to ensure that everyone has the means to celebrate appropriately. In other words, we are obligated to provide matanot la’evyonim – gifts for the poor.
This year, we have several options.

The Jewish Community of Louisville’s Community Relations Council always adopts a project to support through a Purim appeal. This year, the January earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince Haiti left death and devastation in its wake. Today, while food and water are reaching most of the survivors, they live in makeshift tent camps. Basic shelter and sanitation are unavailable. The injured are recovering, but many have lost limbs or have other serious injuries and need extended care. Permanent solutions to their problems are a long way off.

This year, the CRC is joining with Keneseth Israel and Temple Shalom to work with Hope for Haiti. To help CRC support the Purim Earthquake Relief Drive, send your contributions to the Jewish Community of Louisville, 3630 Dutchmans Ln., Louisville, KY 40205. Be sure to indicate that your contribution is for the 2010 Purim appeal.

We don’t need to look beyond Louisville Metro’s borders to find those who need assistance. Jewish Family & Career Services’ Sonny and Janet Meyer Family Food Pantry has helped more than 100 Jewish people this year. Some just need a few items to tide them over at the end of the month. Others depend on it every week.

Passover is just around the corner. In addition to the usual non-perishable staples, these families will need matzah and other Passover staples for the holiday that is now just a month away. Why not fulfill your Purim matanot la’evyonim mitzvah by shopping a little early for Passover – for someone else.

Just drop the supplies off at JFCS or your synagogue.

The JCL Annual Campaign is another good way to do this mitzvah. Dollars raised by the Campaign ensure that affordable, hot, kosher lunches are available for seniors at the JCC five days a week, and can be delivered to the homebound who can’t get to the Center. The Campaign also funds scholarships for Jewish camping and educational experiences. Some of the dollars even go to Israel to support programs like Kivunim, a program that enables young adults with disabilities to reach their maximum potentials.

Making your pledge to the 2010 Campaign also enables you to provide for the poor this Purim. Call 451-8840; send your check to Jewish Community of Louisville, 3630 Dutchmans Ln., Lousiville, KY 40205; or make a donation online by visiting this link.

Whatever you choose to do this year, please consider celebrating Purim by doing the mitzvah of matanot la’evyonim.

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