As I finished watching the Purim service with my family this evening, I began thinking about how last year at Purim it was the last time we were able to engage with one another in person as a community. I can remember clearly attending the Purim Shabbat service and people began wondering if it was OK to still sit next to each other and share food at the oneg. I also remember having my usual exhibitor table at the Federation’s annual Purim Palooza and talking with camp directors about this unknown virus. We were all worried about what the summer may bring but never could we have imagined that the country would soon be shut down and we would have to completely rethink the way we celebrated our Jewish celebrations and traditions for the next year.
As we are coming to the year anniversary of at-home and Zoom celebrations, I continue to be proud of the work the Jewish Federation is doing to bring the community together and to help those in need during these times. This year for Purim we wanted to make sure our families had the opportunity to celebrate together. We know our kids have missed out on so much and we worked hard as a community to make sure we could still have a Purim Palooza event. When planning this as a drive through event, we did not know what to expect. Not to my surprise, I am proud to report we had close to 200 cars come through our drive through event to see their favorite camp directors, synagogue leaders, and community members. Families brought food and needed supplies to fill up two large vans to bring to Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. We also hosted a wonderful Zoom event with 65 families where we had multi-generations making Hamantashen, playing Bingo games, reading stories together, and showing off their costumes.
Staying connected and helping others is something that only heightened the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s work during our year of living digitally. We continue to work hard to make sure we have a lasting impact on Jewish identity during this unprecedented year of engagement. This spring, we hope you will partner with us through your continued financial support and your time, helping us build and inspire a stronger community. We look forward to what we can do together to continue to strengthen Jewish life in Howard County.