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Shabbat Zachor - The Way of Entering Into Purim

Zoom Kliel

Rabbi Kliel is the spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chayim. He was ordained in 2004 at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). As a senior rabbinical student, Kliel received the prestigious Rabbi Marshal T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellowship at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. In 2014 he was awarded the Human Rights Hero Award by T’ruah: The rabbinic call for Human Rights. In 2018 he was selected as one of 20 North American Rabbis to train in the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI) fellowship program. CLI is a two-year program to support and encourage rabbis serving congregations or other new models of spiritual community in the areas of innovative thinking, change management and institutional transformation and is led by Rabbi Sid Schwarz.

Purim is the next holiday on the Jewish calendar, this year it is taking place on the evening of March 17th. On the Shabbat morning before Purim, we read in the Maftir section about the Israelites’ arch-enemy, Amalek, and the abhorrent way in which they attacked the Israelites in the desert. As a result, this day is known as Shabbat Zachor, “the Sabbath of Remembrance”. It is a special mitzvah [commandment] of the Torah to hear the reading and thus to remember.

In this session, we will challenge some of our preconceived notions about Purim by suggesting that in our attempt to make it more appealing with a carnival-like façade we miss its deeper meaning, the one which is implicit in the Maftir section read on Shabbat Zachor.