Purim Down Under

Dear Friends,

I am approaching the last few days of my journey in New Zealand, and it has been an absolutely marvelous trip both as a teacher and as a tourist. I just completed a very rich week of teaching with a wonderful group of folks at Temple Sinai, the Progressive synagogue of Wellington, New Zealand. But, with the sincerest regrets, I have not had the time this week to compose a Torah commentary for this week. Watch this space next Friday for the resumption of this series.

Meanwhile, I wish everyone a Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim. Purim arrives as always with the coming full moon of Adar, falling this year on Wednesday evening, March 4 and continuing through Thursday, March 5. In my natural habitat in the Northern Hemisphere, Purim always falls near the end of winter, and offers a welcome opportunity for a party! May Purim this year be a sure sign that our endless winter is losing its grip and that spring is around the corner! Here in the Southern Hemisphere, to my confusion and delight, it is late summer rather than late winter. The sun crosses across the northern sky, rather than arcing across the south. The moon grows full as always, but grows from the “wrong” direction. The seasonal reference points that the Jewish holidays have always meant to me don’t compute here. But Purim is coming to the New Zealand Jewish community all the same! It has been wonderful to travel halfway around the world and find Jewish communities awaiting me with open arms. Surely one of the most precious aspects of our far-flung tribe is our readiness to embrace Jews from far away and make then feel at home, and I have certainly experienced that comfort and welcome here in New Zealand’s quite small yet vibrant Jewish community.

Do take a look at the calendar of the Lev Shalem Institute – http://lsi-wjc.org/program-calendar/ I’m looking forward to teaching in Woodstock this spring.

Shabbat Shalom, Happy Purim, and may the great thaw of springtime begin!

Rabbi Jonathan