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L’dor Vador

Happy Purim to all of my Jewish peeps out there! I posted the background behind the holiday last year, so to save time, I’m linking it right here. Last night we went to the Megillah reading at the temple, and it was a total blast. Last year’s reading was fun (click here to read how that went), but this year was a little more fun. It’s always a great time to get together with the other families in our community, but Purim is extra-fun because it is supposed to be wild and crazy. Last night was extra-noisy. There were whoopie cushions, musical instruments, and other various noisemakers (we call them groggers) to drown out the name of the bad guy in the story.

The beginning of every other service during the year includes a request to PLEASE turn off all cell phones and other electronic devices which would be a distraction to the prayer environment. (You’d be surprised at how many cell phones still sound off, even after a request like that!) Last night, though, one of the prayer leaders said, “Before we begin, I’d like everyone to turn their cell phones ON! If you have a Blackberry, that’s even better! Start texting NOW!” Hilarious.

The service, besides reading the story of Esther, includes prayers at the beginning and the end. The hilarious part about Purim is that many of them are sung to the tune of different songs, like “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

There was a high element of family participation in reading the various parts of the story of Esther, too. Some of the families have become a Purim tradition around our shul, reading the same part (or acting it out, or singing about it, etc.) each year. We have one family who wrote great new lyrics to “Come Together” by the Beatles, obviously Purim-themed. They perform it as a community sing-along, complete with their son accompanying the music track on his electric guitar. Another family wore snuggies for their turn up there. My second grade co-teacher sang a different version of “Cheek to Cheek”…to a Hamentaschen!

At one point during the noise, my friend turned to me and said, “Oh my gosh, look over there! Look at his grogger! It’s huge!” She meant it literally; the guy DID have a huge grogger/noisemaker. The biggest we’ve ever seen. We were in hysterics, because if you take that a little out of context, well, I’m sure I don’t have to explain it to my audience. I think our laughing was a little louder than the rest of the noise; it was uncontrollable.

Out of all of that insanity, there was a poignant moment for me. A little boy who couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 went up to read (in English) a passage from the story. He had to stand on a stepstool in order to see what he was reading, and every time he came to the bad guy’s name, which everyone had to drown out, his eyes would sparkle and he’d scream and laugh and look at the whole congregation of people making noise basically at his command. I was struck not only by how good a reader he was for his age (he had some pretty big words in his passage, and needed very little help!), but at the joy and wonder in his eyes while he took part in a traditional activity that has gone on for generations and generations. He reminded me a lot of my boys when they were little tykes:

The older boy, Purim 1996

And that, once again, brought it all home for me. The very survival of my religion, because our numbers are relatively small, hinges NOT on trying to convert others (that’s not how we roll), but teaching our own children the stories and traditions that have been the foundation of Judaism since the very beginning. L’dor Vador means “generation to generation”, and that concept was bolded, italicized, and underlined for me last night as I watched the children of our temple carrying on our community traditions. It was lovely!

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  • Kat March 10, 2009, 1:11 pm

    I heart you big time. This post is so much fun to read and not only did it make me lough out loud, it is also educational. If only school was always this much fun.

    So that guys grogger…you are aware that I had to check out what that was because initally I thought it was indeed something naughty ;o)

    Happy Purim Melisa!

  • Lilacspecs March 10, 2009, 1:21 pm

    You know, what you just wrote here really sums up what I was trying to convey in a post yesterday talking about how traditions were important to me and how I was sad that we would only be breaking glass at my wedding (my fiance is an ex-Catholic atheist).

  • Mom24 March 10, 2009, 1:29 pm

    Happy Purim! You are right, that is a very cool and powerful thing about the Jewish religion. I love the tradition.

  • Otter Thomas March 10, 2009, 3:46 pm

    I am familiar with the story of Esther but knew nothing of Purim. I took a look back to learn. Thanks for teaching me something today.

  • The Microblogologist March 10, 2009, 4:19 pm

    Now I am all happy cuz I got my Jew Stuff fix, lol =). Didn’t you post the recipe for hamentaschen? I was looking for it but couldn’t find it. Any why did my religion have to steal a Babylonian holiday and not this one?

    Happy Purim!

  • Tammy March 10, 2009, 5:59 pm

    Thank you for the education! I’m really rather ignorant of the Jewish religion. That was both enlightening and entertaining…in a “man I kinda wish I grew up in the Jewish religion” kinda way…=)

  • Tom March 10, 2009, 6:01 pm

    “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper who love thee.” I might not be Jewish but I’m glad God’s people is still well represented.

  • The Microblogologist March 10, 2009, 6:31 pm

    Tammy and I should start a support group for all of us jealous gentiles πŸ˜‰

  • hotmamamia March 11, 2009, 12:03 am

    Wonderful post…it made me smile as I remembered taking my children to shul for Purim! Found you via Lilacspecs…nice blog!!!

  • julie @ the calm before the stork March 11, 2009, 3:39 am

    Yay for Purim! I’ve been active in the holiday this year for the first time since I was a teenager. I decided my 15 month old is too young for the raucousness this time around, but next year, I think we’ll go.

  • Michelle March 11, 2009, 4:36 am

    Oh way cool, love it, Melisa! A good friend of mine does Purim every year (most of my Jewish friends aren’t ummm Jewish enough to do Purim if that makes sense), and she keeps saying she’s going to invite me one year — at least to the part where they eat in the special tent outside. I love this holiday!

  • WeaselMomma March 11, 2009, 1:26 pm

    That sounds like a hoot! I kind of wish I was there.

  • Melisa with one S March 15, 2009, 4:44 pm

    Kat: Thanks! Passover fun is coming up in a couple of weeks…stay tuned!!

    Lilacspecs: Thanks very much! Traditions are like a blankie or pacifier sometimes, I think. (or comfort food)

    Microblogologist: I don’t think I ever posted a recipe for hamentaschen. I use different ones all the time; they’re all over the web too. I didn’t even make them this year: oops!

    Michelle: Umm, I think with the tent you’re talking about the holiday Sukkot. Unless your friend has her own Purim tradition; no tent that I know of during this holiday…

    Weaselmomma: You would probably love it. We used to take our excellent former neighbors (the Catholics with 5 kids: what a coincidence!) to Purim and it was a great time for all. πŸ™‚

  • nonnasnonsense March 16, 2009, 4:16 am

    thanks for the links back so i didn’t have to ask you 50 million questions this time πŸ™‚

    i too wish i had something traditional that was past on generation to generation like your religion.

    merry Purim (just cuz i feel like saying that instead of happy) :p~~~