“Dear Friends in the Orthodox Jewish Community,
Sometimes we don’t get it. What is to you a traditional holiday can sometimes be seen as somewhat odd by those of us in the secular community. What is to you a cherished tradition can be seen by us as strange, even scary at times. What is to you perfectly “normal” can be seen by us as bizarre. In fact, those of us that live in the area witness some of these things and recoil in fear or horror due to a lack of understanding.
There are literally hundreds of effigies, hung from nooses, in and around Lakewood today and the average person might be tempted to contact the NAACP, the ACLU or the SPLC because they don’t know that this represents the hanging of Haman and is done to celebrate that the Jews were not killed back in the year 425BCE. By the way, we are grateful for that.
And we bet that you sometimes don’t get us. In the Christian faith we celebrate the birth of our Savior with Christmas trees and gift giving and the resurrection of our Savior with Easter eggs and candy. Both events even feature imagined (though quite real to our children) characters in the form of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Then there is Halloween, a holiday that features horrifying decorations at homes, children wearing costumes as cute as a Care Bear and as terrifying as a masked killer complete with machete and everything in between, going door to door hoping to be given candy. Does it get any stranger than that?
Of course there is also Saint Patrick’s Day. A holiday commemorating a man known primarily for having chased all of the snakes out of Ireland, celebrated by dressing in green, drinking alcohol to excess and offering liberal amounts of hugs and kisses to friends and strangers alike. It is said that on Saint Patrick’s Day everyone is a little bit Irish.
So today as you celebrate Purim, know that most of us don’t get it. Fasting all day, drinking and partying all night, giving gifts to people both inside and outside of your faith…it’s foreign to us. But we do respect it.
Some of the orthodox Jewish news feeds in Lakewood are this morning warning of members of RUOC infiltrating your celebrations tonight even suggesting that some of us will don costumes and mingle in the crowds. Some online posts go so far as to suggest that these “spies” won’t be greeted warmly and should take care to watch their backs. If you believe this then surely you also believe that the fat guy in the red suit at the mall is truly Santa Claus and that oversized bunnies run around with baskets in their hands in the spring.
To the members of RUOC, if you do indeed harbor thoughts of attending festivities tonight, please don’t. And if you do, do so knowing that RUOC will condemn your actions just as sure as will the Lakewood Vaad, The Lakewood Stoop, Greater Lakewood and The Voice of Lakewood. This is a religious celebration, albeit an odd one to many of us, and it should be treated with dignity.
Sure we may at some point later post something humorous but it is meant in good fun and keeps with the celebratory mood of the event.
chag Purim samayach!”