Bring Purim to the Homeless

This blog entry is going to be short and sweet because I’m not hoping you will read as much as I am hoping you will DO.

Thursday is Purim, and there are many wonderful traditions associated with this Jewish holiday.  We hear a story, we deliver packages of goodies to our communities, we donate money to the poor.  All good stuff.  However, I think we can bump this packages-of-goodies thing (called mishloach manot) to a new level.  Yes, bake hammentashen tonight if you like (those yummy triangle shaped cookies that look like the bad-guy’s hat), wrap them up with other items in colorful wrapping and deliver them to all you know.  Why not?  But do something else too to fulfill the mitzvah of delivering mishloach manot and helping those in need.  Here are your instructions…

  1. Grab a gallon sized ziplock bag
  2. Find some of those travel sized samples you grabbed from the hotel on your last vacation (soap, shampoo, lotion) and put them in the bag.
  3. Take that unopened packet of tissues that has been in your closet or purse and put that in the bag too.
  4. Find a couple of granola or nutrition bars, maybe some dried fruit or nuts and put them in there too.
  5. If you happen to have (or are inspired to buy) a clean pair of socks, or a small deodorant,  or a travel sized toothbrush or toothpaste, put that in there too.
  6. Seal the bag and put it in your car.

Done!  Easy, right?

You just made a “blessing bag.”  We made tons of them at our last Cool Shul gathering so we could keep them in our cars or take them with us when walking in a neighborhood where we often see the homeless.  This is our Cool Shul version of mishloach manot… no cookies… no cute baskets or wrapping paper… but a Purim gift for someone living on the street who sure could use a wash and a bite to eat.  

Now the next time you are pulling off the freeway and see someone asking for help, forget that inner conversation, “Gee, should I give him money?  Will he really use it for food?  How much do I give?”  Just hand over the bag and wish the person a better day.  I can almost guarantee you will feel great for doing it, and the recipient will be lovingly grateful that you didn’t just hand him/her money (of course you can do that too!), but really considered what he/she needed to get through the day.

If you can, deliver your bag, your mishloach manot, on Thursday, in honor of Purim. And if you want to make the experience feel a little more Jewish, say this when you give the bag away… Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu la’asok b’tzorchai ha-tzibur.  Blessed is (God who gave us) this opportunity to engage in the needs of the community. 

When you deliver your bag, write a comment here so we can hear all about it!

Rantor (Rabbi/Cantor) Diane


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2 thoughts on “Bring Purim to the Homeless

  1. One of the ironies of modern life is that the (deep discount) 99¢ Store is next door to the (overpriced) Whole Foods at Lincoln/Rose. Yesterday, I walked there, a few blocks from my home. Knowing I would likely find homeless folk in front of (their market) the 99¢ Store, I took a couple mashloach minot bags the Cool Shul kids made Friday night. Two guys, obviously living rough, silently accepted their Purim Bags. I said: “Happy Purim!” and went into (my market) the Whole Foods to buy a fish for dinner.


    Liked by 1 person

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