Jewish Journal

A Stranger, A Brother

by Revital Belz

March 5, 2014 | 6:24 am

My husband and I were very excited that we would be celebrating our first Purim together. We had all sorts of ideas for the Purim seudah and mishloach manot. I think I literally starting talking about Purim the day that Channukah ended! I can’t even explain my frustration when I found out that one of my top choices for a summer job had scheduled an interview for me on Purim! I knew that I had no choice – after all I didn’t think that asking to delay the interview would set a good first impression. Not only was my interview set for Purim, but it was actually set for the afternoon an hour away from where we lived. There would be no time to give out all of the mishoach manot that we had prepared. After going over the directions we realized that we would probably be able to hear the megilla in the morning and then get back to our home in time for the meal and to deliver mishoach manot to our friends.

Purim came, and thankfully my interview went well. Unfortunately, we did not take into account that we would be driving back at rush hour. As we got closer and closer home I almost started crying. It was becoming clear that there was no way we would have time to deliver mishloach manot before the seudah. I stared at all the neatly piled beautiful packages in the back of the car. Suddenly I had an idea. We lived near a university with a very large Jewish population. I told my husband to drive into the University and open the windows. He looked at me with suspicion, but followed my request. Then I told him my plan. Since we knew that most of the students were Jewish we would drive around the campus and shout Happy Purim! Then, when we got people’s attention we would toss a small package out of the window. As we drove around yelling Happy Purim, and throwing little packages of home-made hamantachen and raisins out of the window, to total strangers, we felt better than ever. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was actually bringing pure joy to total strangers.

Since then, the idea has developed more and more. As it happened, the second Purim we shared together as a couple, was about three weeks after we moved to Israel. Initially we felt distressed because we didn’t yet have friends to deliver mishloach manot to. All of a sudden we remembered the utter joy we felt as we lit up Purim for total strangers. We decided we would do the same (though without a car) that year as well.

We now have live in Israel for about 4 years. Thankfully, by now we have many friends. We do prepare about 15 small packages to deliver to our close friends as is customary to do so. However, our main work goes into preparing about a hundred little mishloach manot which we deliver to total strangers. We remember the way it felt to go have an interview on Purim, and we realized that there are thousands of Israeli Jews who spend each Purim working in a local, fruit shop, pharmacy, or as bus drivers. For the past two years we have made it our personal business to provide these hard working Israeli’s with some “holiday” feeling on Purim. Each year we dress up our kids in cute costumes, and set out by foot with hundreds of little mishloach manot. We walk around our local city armed with a goal of bringing joy to our stranger brothers and sisters. After my 5 year old son gives mishloach manot to the workers in all the local stores (the fruit store, the pharmacy, the supermarket etc.) We head out to a huge bus-stop and wait for busses. No, we are not going anywhere, but we have a job to do. Each bus that passes by we quickly board, give the bus driver a little bag of goodies, and then get off the bus.

I am proud of the way we celebrate Purim in our family. My children are learning a valuable lesson – and I think the lesson meant to be learned by the Purim story. My children are learning that our the Jewish people is a nation that watches out and cares for one another, weather we know them or not.

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Revital Belz is from Elad, Israel and studied public relations at Bar Ilan University, while working as copywriter for aJudaica.com.  As a mother of five boys, she also enjoys...

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