Thank you Mr. Speaker. My father--and I'm sure many other fathers of Jewish boys and girls--would describe every Jewish holiday the same way, with an old joke: they tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat. Sunday we mark the Jewish holiday of Purim. Purim has the same storyline as the old joke, but unlike many other Jewish events, the observation of the holiday matches the joking summation. Purim is a joyous holiday filled with costumes and noisemakers. The story is that an evil advisor to a king wanted to wipe out all of the Jews, but the King had taken a liking to a Jewish girl and thanks to her intervention, the Jews survived and the advisor was defeated. Purim is known among rabbis and scholars as a celebratory occasion, more like a Monday night in Annapolis than the usual stiff and solemn service.
The landmark "What is a Jew?" by Rabbi Kertzer has this to say about Purim: "With all its gay abandon, Purim is also a day of spiritual comfort, a reminder that tyrants perish and that evil can gain only a temporary victory in man's (and now woman's) struggle for freedom." Now colleagues, I am not going with this where you think. I believe the lesson of Purim is that whatever your problem, whether it is a bill stuck in committee, an issue at home, or a professional problem, this too shall pass and you will soon be celebrating.
And then we eat. And in that spirit, some of our local Jewish groups have been kind enough to provide the traditional Purim pastry, hamentashan, for our offices today. Enjoy and happy Purim!
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