By Rabbi Ilana Baird, Russian-Speaking Jewish (RSJ) Programs Manager, March 2021
The month of Adar in the Jewish calendar is considered a month of joy. Purim is a joyous holiday. Our sages observed if there were not such a holiday, then Purim would have had to be invented. Just a year ago, we had so much fun celebrating Purim with our families and children at the APJCC in Los Gatos. We also had a fun celebration with adults while playing a festive intellectual game with Inna Drouz.
However, immediately after that, COVID-19 restricted us to a new reality. In response, our programs for Russian speakers migrated online. People faced new challenges, new fears, and a new lifestyle for many. Month after month, our RSJ South Bay community was always there for all: we continued to meet with our children online and in person, and we offered virtual trips and virtual holiday celebrations. Our virtual Passover was attended by more than 60 families!
We organized volunteers to bring food for retirees in need and holiday gifts for families. We helped overcome loneliness and depression by organizing a mental support program, “Positive Thinking.” We hosted a professional psychologist to help support parents of teenagers dealing with these difficult times, on the topic of how to interact with your children in order to stabilize your relationship. We endeavored to connect our program participants with Jewish tradition and holidays, with the Land of Israel, and in supporting Jewish knowledge and Jewish identity.
If this strange year hadn’t happened, maybe it would have had to be invented? Looking back after a year, when the month of Adar and the holiday of Purim approached again, joy increased in our hearts because our Russian-speaking Jewish program had become so strong, and was able to support so many people. All this is thanks to our activists and leaders: people, whose support is unbelievably amazing; people who donated money; people who helped our seniors, families, and each other.
We are so blessed to have all of you as our supporters! May happiness and joy increase in our hearts during this season of Adar and Purim. May the difficult times pass by as soon as possible!