Fridays with Manny



After I decided on the title of today’s story, I looked up the meaning of providence, which is “the protective care of God or nature as a spiritual power.” It fits perfectly to the story of Jewish holiday Purim, which was celebrated starting last Monday evening and through Tuesday. The story is the celebration of what seemed as a lucky moment for Jews to survive in Persia, modern Iran, sometime around the year 357 BCE. The name Purim means casting lots in the sense of making a random selection. It seems to me that all of our lives is Purim.

We often are making decisions which are “random selections”, since we do not know what is going to be the outcome (some claim that the only thing which was not random for us to choose is our parents before we were born). At the same time we also are making conscious decisions which seem to give us expected results. Probably because they are guided by some mysterious forces, which belong to the realm of providence. There are a number of traditions, which make the Purim holiday special; one of them is dressing up, and the other one might surprise you – Commandment for Jews to get drunk until you cannot distinguish between Mordechai and Haman, or those who are good and not so good.

The three images are my encounters in the Congregation Chevra Thilim, the oldest synagogue in San Francisco, which was founded in 1892 during the celebration of Purim. The events, which happened long, long time ago, are still remembered and celebrated thanks to the Rabbi of the congregation Shlomi Zarchi and his wife Chani, as well as visiting Rabbi Shimon Margolin.

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