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Purim 2016: ‘Let us rejoice in defiance of terror’

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“This Purim, celebration might not feel totally appropriate.

The world is now coming to terms with yet another devastating act of terrorism, the latest in a string of attacks by those who champion violence and hatred. In the last six months alone, there have been more than 330 terrorist attacks in Israel, murdering 34 and injuring more than 400. Sadly, the people of France, Turkey, Belgium and elsewhere now also have an understanding of what it is to live with the scourge of terror in their midst.

What are we to make of Purim at a time when the “feasting and joy” prescribed in the Megillah feels like the last thing on our minds?

But, this is precisely the paradox of the Purim story. In the shadow of a genocidal decree, at what was the most precarious time for our nation since we were slaves in Egypt – with the help of Hashem, we survived. Relief might have been the logical response. Inhibition and trepidation might have been expected. But instead – we rejoiced.

Throughout the generations, each time our existence was threatened, we responded by celebrating the glory of life. It is what has helped to sustain us through the horrors of millennia gone by.

So, this Purim, let us gather in defiance of those who would have us cowering behind closed doors. Let us show the world how we respond when everything that we hold dear is attacked. On Purim, we declare our determination to move, “from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to holiday” and to help shape a better future for mankind.

Purim sameach!”