Concerned that the joy of Purim is too often marred by irresponsible behavior, the Orthodox Union has once again initiated a coordinated series of steps to alert the community to make the holiday not only happy, but safe. Purim falls this year on Monday night, March 13 and Tuesday, March 14.
“Purim is a time to phenomenally impact upon Jewish families and especially youth,” declared Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, OU National Executive Director. “Our goal is to facilitate inclusion and safety for all segments of the Jewish population.”
To insure safety, especially among teens, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) once again has made available a pamphlet, “Drinking on Purim,” based on traditional Jewish sources to warn young people about drinking on the holiday and to suggest safe alternatives. The pamphlet, written by Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, declares that even though wine has particular sacramental purpose, “its use is hardly a religious imperative” and that there are sufficient reasons to seek out “viable (non-alcoholic) alternatives.”
The pamphlet is available to NCSY regions for distribution to their teens, and it will be available as a PDF file on the NCSY web site, www.ncsy.org. Finally, visitors to the website can request the pamphlet as well. There will be no charge, except for costs of shipping larger quantities.
Once again this year OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb will deliver a message available on the OU website, www.ou.org, emphasizing the importance of refraining from excessive use of alcohol and other unsafe behavior on Purim. Rabbi Weinreb has delivered the message the past three years.
Like last year, an OU advertising campaign has been initiated in Jewish communities. The ads, which will be posted in OU synagogues, stress that “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Irresponsibly on Purim.”
To bring the joy of the holiday to Jewish communities that have not been able to celebrate it fully in the past, Our Way, the OU’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities program for the deaf and hard of hearing, has set the goal of bringing its PowerPoint Megillat Esther program to at least 100 synagogues across the United States and Canada. Last year the program reached over 50 synagogues. Batya Jacob, Our Way Program Director, says that the long-term goal is to have the program available in every major Jewish community in the country.
The PowerPoint Megillah reading consists of visual graphics projected by computer onto a screen in front of the synagogue enabling the deaf or hard of hearing to follow along with the reader. The text appears on the screen in both Hebrew and English and includes special graphics when the villain Haman’s name is read, which receives the response of booing and the use of loud noise makers.