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Greeting from the Big Island!

03/01/2019 12:00:55 AM


Rabbi Taron Tachman

Aloha and Shalom!! Greetings from the “Big Island” of Hoffman Estates where this year for Purim, WE ARE GOING TO HAWAII!!!!! YAY!!! Well, not really, but kind of, please keep reading…..

This year for Purim we are changing things up at bit. On the actual day of Purim, Wednesday, March 20th, we will celebrate the holiday at 7:00 pm with a Purim Service, Megillah Reading, and Mitzvah Project making Shlach Manot, (food baskets) which we will donate to local food pantries. As always, we invite folks of all ages to join in our holiday celebration to hear the Purim story from our tradition and to help feed the hungry.

What’s different this year is that we will be holding our annual Purim Shpiel (modern parody of the Purim tale) and our fantastic Purim Carnival on the Sunday, prior to Purim. THAT’S SUNDAY, MARCH 17th!!! At 11:00 am, we will read from the Megillah, present our Purim Shpiel, “Aloha Esther” (based on Moana) and our Purim Carnival and festivities
will follow. We hope to see you on the 17th and the 20th!

In the last few weeks—in light of the Purim Shpiel theme— many, many, I mean MANY people have been asking me this question: “Rabbi, what does the Disney story of Moana have to do with Purim and with being Jewish?”

To the multitudes of questioners, I relate what I learned from an interesting blog written by Sarah Rindner, teacher of English Literature at Lander College for Women. In her blog post, entitled: “Moana and the Call of Jewish Destiny,” Rindner points out how Moana, like other Disney Princesses, longs to break free from her environment. In the song that all of us parents with young children can’t get out of our heads, Moana sings about “standing at the edge of the water long as she can remember, never really knowing why. [Moana] wishes [she] could be the perfect daughter, but [she] comes back to the water no matter how hard [she] tries.” Something, it seems, keeps pulling Moana back to her roots. Other songs, Rindner explains, take this notion even further. For example, the song: Where You Are reminds Moana of the beauty of her shared heritage and teaches her that “true satisfaction does not involve seeking out new vistas and breaking with the past.

Appreciating the richness of your heritage is itself an exciting and absorbing task with its own beautiful music.” Other songs such as: We Know the Way, asserts Rindner, urge Moana to consider that “the collected wisdom of the past is necessary to guide us into the future.” And, if there was one consistent message of the film, again suggests Rindner, it is that “one can satisfy one’s inner voice specifically by remaining loyal to your people in the deepest sense. Moana learns that what calls her away from her native island and toward the sea is not some arbitrary desire to follow her heart, rather it is the latent life-force of her nation.”

Considering Rindner’s interpretation of Moana, and considering the many Jewish names that appear in the film’s credits, I personally can’t help but wonder if any of the film’s creators weren’t themselves inspired by the traditional story of Purim. After all, here we have a girl, named Esther, who breaks free of her environment, experiences new vista and breaks with her past by marrying a Persian king and by hiding her Jewish identity. When the welfare of her people is imperiled, Esther at first does not heed her inner voice. Instead she indicates that she is powerless to help the Jews.

That is, until her Uncle Mordechai reminds Esther of her roots and her responsibility to her people: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary; if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter…and who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis!” (Esther 4:13-15) With those words, Esther finally hears her inner voice and answers the call of Jewish destiny. She formulates a plan. She snaps into action and Esther saves her people!! That, ladies and gentlemen, is “how far,” this Jewish Princess (actually Queen) “will go!”

This Purim, as we engage in all the fun and hilarity of the holiday, as we shake our groggers and boisterously boo Haman, let us not be deaf to beautiful music that is our sacred heritage. Let us open our ears and hearts to heed the call of our inner voices, the call of Jewish destiny, and let us hear the call of all those who are suffering and imperiled by cruel forces. After all, who knows, maybe you have attained your position for just such a crisis!

Sun, May 31 2020 8 Sivan 5780