A Purim festivity takes place at the local Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, filling the school hallways and corridors with spree of joy and laughter. It is a celebration where children, parents and the school staff members unite together under one roof and reflect the Jewish traditions, values and the precious historical events that helped pave their presence today. Celebrated by millions of Jews from around the world, Purim “09” took place on Wednesday 20th and lasted till Thursday evening on the 21st. The specific celebration days are relevant to the cycle date of the 14th day of Adar (in Jerusalem and all ancient walled cities, 15th of Adar)
While many cheered and anticipated the standard and typical Purim, a hidden surprise slowly crept its way through the hallways and towards the gymnasium of where the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy Purim celebration took place.
Rabbi Boruch Sufrin who is the Head of Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy took the honors in hosting the event and was also responsible to acknowledge the Purim celebration. Mr. R.B. Sufrin began with opening statements that reflected the Jewish holiday values and what Purim stood for. Children watched and listened with fascination as parents equally enjoyed and applaud for the speaker.
Purim or the Festival of Lots is a Jewish holiday where faithful Jews from around the world enjoy and celebrate and commemorate with families and loved ones. It is a recognition of the Jews surviving and saving from the people from Haman who swore under oath to kill all of the Jewish people. The historical event is recorded under the Biblical Book of Esther and it is believed that such grand event took place in Achaemenid Persian Empire.
Mr. R.B. Sufrin took the moment to officially recognize the importance of how the United States plays strategic support towards the alliance of the Jewish people and how people that dress up in uniforms risk their lives on daily basis, not knowing when they will get to see their family again. Mr. R.B. Sufrin was acknowledging to Moses Scheinfeld who’s a U.S. Army major, positioned as the 40th Infantry Division of the California Army National Guard in the south of Afghanistan. Major Scheinfeld has been away from his family on duty for the past nine months, running operations and supervising other important missions. As heroic and iconic Major Scheinfeld is for America and the Jewish people, he is equally a fantastic dad too who can sometimes have a spontaneous personality, apart from being a jarhead most of the time. Major Scheinfeld is an Orthodox Jew, who knew about the Purim celebration event at the school and decided to give his family a wonderful surprise.
How is Purim Celebrated?
Typically the recitation of the Book of Esther is recalled, people offer and send goods and foods, gift wraps amongst the community as a way of appreciating the Jewish history and continuing the Purim legacy. Many people even dress up in costumes to cast historical plays in small theaters. The event usually has a collection of different types of dishes that includes festive meals like the “hamantaschen” also known as the Haman’s ear that is followed by the “Adloyada” (parties and parades)
The Special Appearances
Mr. R.B. Sufrin recited a few chapters from the Dvar Torah prior to announcing Major Scheinfeld to the stage. But before Major Scheinfeld could make his way towards the stage, he was bombarded by his family with hugs, love and tears of joy! It took hardly a slight second for Major Scheinfeld children to recognize their father, as he had just walked into the gym. Shortly after, Mom (Rivka) joined the “hugging” moment.
Crowd cheered and applaud for Major Scheinfeld, but it was a greater moment to cheer when their family had reunited after a long drag of the 9 months.
Words from Major Scheinfeld
How is life while serving your country and staying vigilant to your position? It’s tough. But according to Major Scheinfeld, there are other things that can help to keep your mind calm and collective. Major described that he and his team had to work 16-18 hours a day, every day for the past 9 months! Despite these harsh long hours and the poor living standards in Afghanistan, Major Scheinfeld mentioned that he “dedicatedly studied Torah subjects that included the Psalms recitations and the Pirkei and acknowledged the Ethics of Our Fathers, every day”.
Understanding the foundation and values of the Jewish tradition and history helps to center the focus on establishing your daily objectives and goals. It helped him retain peace of mind, yet strong enough to improvise under pressure. Heroism is something that is attained through recognition, which is proceeded by dedication, loyalty and hard work.
“That is what gave me the energy to continue” said Major Sheinfeld.
The Struggles of a Soldier
Being a soldier doesn’t just mean that you are trained to destroy your enemy, there is a great degree of other strategic methods are taught to the soldier as well. Such training not only helps them during real worldly combats, but it also helps as an additional value to a person’s set of skills and ability that plays a major role throughout their lives. One of the biggest fears that most military families share is the fact of not knowing the possibilities of their family member returning home alive. Which is why tears of joy are common during uniting moments like the Purim celebration for the Scheinfeld family.
Purim indeed is one of the grandest events for Jews throughout the world today. Some traditionally celebrate, others like Major Scheinfeld innovates the norm for his family. Major Scheinfeld helps to reflect the importance of remembering the heroic historical events that took place and acknowledging the values and the traditions that were engraved by Jewish leaders. Today the culture is considered an important factor according to Major Scheinfeld, as it was the only thing that helped him during his time in Afghanistan, as working under tough climate in war can be devastating.