Jewish Holiday of Purim Is Relevant in a Different Way This Year, Says UF Hillel Rabbi
The Jewish holiday Purim is approaching, commemorating the triumph of the Jewish people over the attempt to annihilate them in the fourth century B.C.E by Haman, the prime minister of the Persian Empire.
Celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month “Adar,” which falls between late winter and early spring each year, events and activities are being prepared by members of the University of Florida Hillel and Chabad despite the rise of antisemitic displays nationwide, including the recent proposal of a “National Day of Hate”.
For UF Hillel Rabbi Jonah Zinn, Purim holds a poignant meaning, especially as the holiday tells the story of the Jewish people’s attempted destruction.
The event’s significance and celebration of the Jewish people and their triumphs continue to inspire members of the faith, such as Jason Scheuer, former president of Gators for Israel, who believes that Purim will mean a celebration of overcoming hate.
Rabbi Zinn likewise believes that Purim can serve as a “powerful reminder” of how the Jewish people once overcame persecution and vilification and a hopeful idea that they will continue to do so.
Despite this, the ongoing trend of hate cannot be ignored.
UF Hillel launched the “Chomp Hate” campaign following a recent incident during the Florida-Georgia football game, aiming to educate different student organizations emphasizing discrimination against the Jewish community.
Student organizations such as the Florida Cicerones have also partnered with Hillel and Chabad to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through their training courses.
JSU President Sam Hendler reinforced the importance of Jewish unity during these times of hate, culminating in Sunday’s carnival filled with games, food and community.
Students also anticipate various traditional Purim activities such as gift giving, dressing up in costumes, and indulging in hamantaschen pastries at Hillel and Chabad throughout the week.
Despite the ongoing hate, Rabbi Zinn encourages students to celebrate the holiday with pride and safety, highlighting that rather than fear, a sense of duty to be engaged in Jewish life on campus has strengthened.