Adar Again and Closing Thoughts on New Moons

In antisemitism, Education, Holocaust, Home by Judy SchindlerLeave a Comment

By Mary Eshet

The new moon for Adar II marks the 13th “new moon” blog, and concludes a year of reflections.  While there are 12 months in the Jewish lunar calendar, in order to align with the solar calendar, an extra Adar is inserted 7 times every 19 years – and this was one such leap year.

Over these 13 lunar months, I have appreciated learning more about the traditions and events that fill each month; the ways different cultures and religions count time, months, and years; and anchoring hope in difficult times to the growing light of the moon.

Each month, the moon disappears from the sky, to reappear as a fragile sliver that gradually grows to a full moon illuminating our sky. It is fitting to end the year with Adar II, the month including Purim. On Purim, the Megillah is read, which tells the story of the near annihilation of the Jews and the miracles that saved them. Through the miracles of Purim, the darkness turned to light and the light of liberation we celebrate in Nissan with Passover continued to shine.

Scholars note that God’s name is not mentioned once in the Megillah, and yet the Spirit’s work is evident in the events of the Purim story. I take a message from this – that it is through our work as individuals to advocate for humanity and combat hate that God appears.

Throughout the year, the Stan Greenspon Center has continued work to further our mission: to develop informed and engaged global citizens who, grounded in their own identity, are prepared to respond to prejudice and discrimination with actions advocating human rights for all.

From Nisan to Adar II, the Center has hosted many events for the community – Soul Food Shabbat, Pickleball for Peace, Wine and Wisdom book discussions, the Upstander Award, the “Seeing Auschwitz” exhibit, a Black/Jewish Alliance Shabbat, Signature classes in Jewish studies, a Kristallnacht service, and more. We have continued to offer programming on the Queens University campus, supporting Hillel, hosting holiday celebrations, and distributing challah and matzoh ball soup to students. We sponsored two Queens students as Greenspon fellows who presented impressive findings on antisemitism. We welcomed new cohorts to the Charlotte Black/Jewish Alliance, the Holocaust Pedagogy certification program, and the Social Justice and Community Organizing certification program.

It has been a busy year. A year including very difficult times that sometimes discouraged us. But also a year of hope shining through the darkness. Your support has been a steadfast source of this hope, fueling our commitment to redouble our efforts.

As we conclude this series, I leave you with three thoughts:

First, a Purim-related piece I ran across describing one Purim tradition: We strengthen our belief in God’s presence in the real world by having a whopper of a feast. Invite all your friends. Wear a costume to celebrate the fact that things are not always as they seem. Drink until you are so intoxicated that you recognize there are no longer heroes and villains — just characters in God’s unending play that reveals His love and presence.

While I am not suggesting everyone drink so much, I love the idea that there are no longer heroes and villains, and the idea that even in dark times, we can celebrate the goodness that still abounds all around us.

Second, I recently read a book on the teachings of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader, or rebbe of the Lubavitch movement of Chassidic Judaism for 44 years. Three quotes from the Rebbe resonated with me, echoing the mission of the Greenspon Center and the hope inspired by new moons:

“We must translate pain into action, and tears into growth.”

“We live in a state of emergency, where the fires of confusion are raging. When a fire is burning, everyone is responsible for helping his fellow man.”

“Evil is simply the absence of good; it has no real existence of its own, and is dispelled in the light of goodness.”

Third, and last, I wish you all many new moons, full moons, joy and hope. As my once neighbor, columnist Ina Hughes, wrote, “Full moons may come like clockwork, but we’ve lost something important if we think of them as routine.”

Most important, I close with a huge thank you to all of you who support us by participating in programs, donating to the Center and by being Upstanders every day.


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