The artwork on this note card was featured on the cover of the 5776/2015-16 WRJ Art Calendar, created by Helaine Bach for the WRJ/NFTY Art Contest.
Purim reminds us that the evils of persecution and genocide are ever-present threats to humanity. Haman accuses the Jews of being a people scattered and dispersed who scorn the king’s law and obey their own laws (Esther 3:8-11). As a people who celebrate unique customs and have historically been shunned from the rest of society, the Jews have known a unique vulnerability to persecution.
However, as the end of the book of Esther, in which the Jews kill 75,000 Persians while defending themselves, shows us, we not only have a responsibility in preventing others from oppressing us, but we must also prevent anyone from experiencing oppression. As Abraham Joshua Heschel says: “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
Today, thousands of people around the world are persecuted because of differences in race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.
Genocide is occuring worldwide, with major conflict areas including Sudan, Syria, Myanmar and South Sudan.
Our Jewish values of upholding the dignity of humanity compel us to feel personally responsible for those experiencing oppression worldwide. In honor of Purim, let us take the opportunity to learn about persecution and human rights violations and work towards peaceful solutions to these conflicts.