Purim: Looking Beyond the Ribbons and the Candy

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By Mr. Zvi Gluck

Open up just about any Jewish magazine or newspaper, or walk into any kosher supermarket, and you are going to be faced with a spectacular lineup of Instagram-worthy mishloach manos in a rainbow of colors, shapes and sizes, all decked out in cellophane and ribbons. On the outside, each one is really quite beautiful, but let’s be honest – while those artfully packaged displays are visually stunning, once the wrappers come off, the stuff on the inside often takes on a very different look.

Over the past four and a half years, Amudim has been blessed to help people look beyond the image they present and see themselves for who they really are, the first step on the road to good health.  All too often we meet people who spend their day-to-day lives trying to please others, keeping their true feelings hidden inside.  We all know by now that keeping things bottled up eventually backfires and that people who live with constant internal stress find ways to fill the gaping holes in their lives, by turning to drugs, alcohol and worse, to numb the pain.   The lucky ones are those who end up in therapy and, in time and with proper support, can begin to manage and approach their lives with healthy choices. And the rest? They are the ones that have the Amudim staff losing sleep at night, the people for whom we daven fervently in the hopes that we never get that dreaded phone call telling us that this time, our efforts just weren’t enough.

Much like an eye catching mishloach manos whose glamorous exterior camouflages foods that aren’t quite as tasty as they look, there are people all around us whose Purim smiles and creative costumes hide a world of hurt on the inside.  So to those of you out there whose lives are relatively care-free, we wish you a Purim that is both joyous and responsible.  And to those of you who struggle with depression, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, abusive family members or loneliness, know that Amudim is here for you today, tomorrow and every day of the year, with our warm and devoted case managers just a click, a phone call or an email away.

Purim Safety Tips

  • Don’t drink and drive. If you plan on drinking, give your car keys to a responsible sober friend or make arrangements for a ride.
  • Make sure that any drivers leaving your home are sober. If someone is not in responsible driving condition, do whatever it takes to make sure they stay until they are sober, or find them a designated driver to help them get home responsibly.
  • When you are out in public on Purim, remember that your every word and action has the potential to make a kiddush Hashem or a chilul Hashem.
  • Never leave alcohol unattended. Keep it out of reach of children and do not serve alcohol to minors.
  • With an open door and guests coming in and out of your home, keep an eye on your children. Make sure that your kids are in rooms with open doors for their own safety. The number of cases we have seen of children who were sexually abused by guests in their own homes, could literally make you cry.
  • Have a heart to heart with older kids about the dangers of drinking and make sure that they know that if they need a safe ride home, no matter where they are, you will come and get them, no questions asked.
  • Check on people who live alone. Be sure to reach out to them and wish them a happy Purim, invite them to your seudah or bring them mishloach manos. Even small gestures can be very meaningful to someone who is struggling.
  • Appreciate that family time and large gatherings can make some people feel anxious and/or depressed so be sensitive to others that might have to work for their happiness. Try and sit down with them for a few minutes, give them a smile and let them know how happy you are to see them.
  • Purim is a tough time for those contending with food or alcohol issues. Never insist that anyone have “just a taste” or a l’chaim with you. If someone says no thank you, move on and appreciate they may be struggling.
  • Model responsible behavior for those around you, especially children, who often emulate the things adults say and do.

This Purim, celebrate responsibly, be mindful of yourself and others and most importantly, have a very Happy Purim!

Zvi Gluck is the director of Amudim, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community, and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 18 years.  For more information go to www.amudim.org.

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