So what is Purim about? This short guide explains the various holiday traditions and celebrations, as well as a few suggestions of unique and fun ways to partake in the festivities.
Three words, among the last uttered by journalist Daniel Pearl before his murder two years ago this month (on Feb. 21, the public learned of the murder), have become a nucleus for thoughtfulness and creativity. "I Am Jewish," edited by his parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl (Jewish Lights), is a collection of brief essays by almost 150 noted contributors who tease out meaning from these words and compose personal statements of Jewish identity.
When I began to study Torah seriously as a college student, I was introduced to its spiritual depths. I found that the meanings of the holidays went beyond the agricultural and historical sources, and often had complex spiritual teachings woven in. I remember that, back in those days, I could find little spiritual or poetic meanings of Shemini Atzeret. It was blank, or more accurately, a cipher.
Here we go again! We start the New Year by reading the Torah all over again from the beginning. Why do we do this, year after year? Why do we read the same things over and over again? Maybe we can find the answer in the word that means "year" in Hebrew: shana.