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Purim Primer

Dear Chaverim,

This year Purim begins Wednesday March 20th, and continues on March 21st.   

Maimonides says the most important mItzvah of Purim is gifts to the poor (matanot l’evyonim).  Maimonides explains that the reason for the primacy of matanot l’evyonim is that there is no better way to feel happiness than to gladden the heart of the poor.   

Over the last two years, we raised close to $20,000 dollars to gladden many hearts by providing profound relief to families in real distress.  Very often the discretionary funds assists individuals or families with a particular expense, housing, medicine etc. This year, in particular, we have a number of families that are in a very difficult situation. The Purim distribution gives them breathing room and the ability to address some of the other needs that arise.

The monies you contribute are delivered quickly and discreetly on Purim day, and the impact is immediate and great.  There is nothing quite as moving as seeing stress disappearing on the faces of the recipients, or the blissful shock that relief of this sort can provide.   As is our custom at Schara Tzedeck, your gift will enable me to distribute monies locally, as well as send a portion of our funds to needy in Israel. 

Fulfill the mitzvah of gifts to the poor and help me meet their needs by clicking here to contribute.  Please select “Purim Donation - Rabbi’s Discretionary” in the drop down menu.  You may also contribute through the shul office at 604-736-7607.  

Join us for all the Purim festivities at Schara Tzedeck.  The full schedule and a Purim Primer are included below for easy reference.

Please click here or call the shul office to register for the Purim Seudah on Thursday, March 21. 

Wishing you a Chag Purim Sameach.

Rabbi Andy Rosenblatt

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Fast of Esther will be observed on Wednesday, March 20th.  Fast begins at 5:40 A.M.; fast ends at 8:00 P.M. Selichot is at 6:30 A.M. followed by Shacharit at 7:00 A.M. Mincha is at 7:00 P.M. followed by Maariv at 7:50 P.M.

Megillah readings: Wednesday night, March 20th, 8:00 p.M. (Main Sanctuary) and 9:00 P.M. (Small Chapel); Thursday morning (times reflect start of morning service, Megillah is about 40 minutes into the service) March 21st, 7:00 A.M. and 8:30 A.M. (Main Sanctuary);  Women's Megillah Reading 9:00 A.M. (Small Chapel).

Mincha and Ma’ariv will be at 7:15 P.M. on Purim day.

Wednesday night for Schara Tzedeck Youth, following the 8:00 P.M. megillah reading
Thursday, March 21 for Tots and their families, 11:30 A.M. - 1:30 P.M., Wosk Auditorium.

Purim Seudah- Thursday, March 21, 4:30 P.M. - 6:30 P.M., Silber Auditorium.

Fast of Esther  Purim begins the with the Fast of Esther, celebrated on the eve of the holiday. Despite the name, the fast is not based on the fast Esther undertook before approaching King Achashverosh. The Fast of Esther is observed in commemoration of the battles that raged between the genocidal mobs of Haman and the Jewish people, as well as the spiritual war against the enemies of Jews and Judaism. Those who are pregnant, nursing, or infirm, or even those suffering from an intense headache may make up the fast on another day.   
Megillat Esther  We are required to hear the reading of the megillah twice on Purim--once at night and once the next day.  It is preferable to do this in a public setting (with a minyan) and to find the largest reading one can.

Here are some links for some good reading on the Megillah
Dr. Moshe Simon: Irony and the Book of Ester 

Yoram Hazony Politics and Esther (brief)

Review of Yoram Hazony’s book on Politics and Esther 

Rabbi Sacks on the Book of Esther

Matanot L'Evyonim (Gifts to the Poor) According to Jewish tradition one should spend more energy and resources on this mitzvah above all others. Please give generously, either in synagogue on Purim, or by clicking here and selecting “Purim Donation - Rabbi’s Discretionary” from the drop down menu. It is suggested, if possible, for each adult (post bar/bat mitzvah) to donate a minimum of $50 which is the approximate equivalent of a meal for two people. 

Mishloach Manot (Exchanging Gifts) These are gifts of food from one friend to another.   One must give food and cannot substitute other items of value. The tradition suggests that the two food items should be of two different categories (or require different brachot), such as cake and chocolate, or fruit juice and hamantashen.  This mitzvah is designed to allow the community to preserve its unity and connections over a distance.  Sharing food has long been a way to bring a community close together and this mitzvah is a wonderful way to do that.  I would suggest choosing to give to someone you imagine will not get mishloach manot (e.g. new family in the school community, an elderly friend who is a little more lonely this year, etc.) Mishloach Manot should be given out on Purim day after hearing the Megillah reading.
Purim Seudah (Purim Feast)  This meal is an actual requirement and not just an optional celebration. One of the purposes of this meal is, again to strengthen the feeling of community by sharing a meal with friends.  Please register here.
Machatzit HaShekel (Half Shekel). The giving of the machazit hashekel is done to commemorate the Temple census and campaign for basic funds.  The Synagogue provides an apparatus by which you can purchase the half currency coins and then re-donate them.  They will be available from Wednesday, March 20th through the end of Purim day. 
Dressing up  This needs little explanation, just keep it appropriate.
Drinking  Please see my discussion here  on: Noah, Lot and Other Jewish Drinkers 

Wed, 22 May 2019 17 Iyyar 5779