Reading the Megillah — and Supporting Israel — at the United Nations
The United Nations is the ultimate arena for Israel bashers and anti-Zionists. But on Purim 2016, the UN was the scene of prayers for world Jewry and protests expressing support for the Jewish state.
On Purim day, I stood and held a scroll of the book of Esther in front of the United Nations. Some people gazed curiously at the Talit upon my shoulders. Nearby were 20 fellow participants who had joined me in a planned Megillah reading. I began to recite the blessings — and then the book of Esther, evoking the story of Jewry’s salvation in ancient Persia to the small but spirited crowd. Clenching their groggers, they hissed and booed at every mention of Haman. This had extra meaning in front of the UN.
The event was organized by Americans for a Safe Israel. Hats off to them!
We were a small group — and in the context of the massive holiday festivities that were taking place that day within the Jewish world, I felt small and insignificant.
But the individual does matter. He can make the difference. In the words of Glenn Richter, who addressed the group, “Individuals turn the tide. They win the greatest struggles.” Richter was one of the founders of the movement known as the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry back in 1964, and one of the architects of small, rapid response Soviet Jewry demonstrations. That was at a time when the plight of Soviet Jewry was hardly noticed and three million Jews were virtual prisoners in the USSR.
Our presence at the UN sent out a message on Purim day: Silence is not an option. Just as Esther and Mordechai acted in their time, so too, Jews must take the lead in speaking out against this international organization, which regularly singles out Israel alone for condemnation. At a time when Israel faces so much pressure and threats of isolation by nations demanding dangerous concessions, who will stand by Israel — literally on the streets — and demand to be heard?
One participant referred to the Purim gathering at the UN as a “moment to express the hope for a different world, where instead of lies and defamation at the UN, words of praise for Israel will be heard.” Until then, here we stand.