What We Can Learn from Queen Esther

February 27, 2023

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO

Purim will be here in just over a week, a joyful holiday when we come together in celebration to hear the Megillah. In the dramatic climax of the Purim story, Queen Esther speaks up on behalf of the Jewish people. With our survival at stake, Esther rises successfully to our defense with the power of her voice.

Purim gatherings have all the trappings of a festive good time, but a central message of the holiday is serious—to ensure a strong and vibrant Jewish future, we must be our own strongest advocates. Especially at challenging times when we must pull together to fight antisemitism.

Jump ahead 23 centuries from Queen Esther’s era and the Purim story holds lessons for us today. Antisemitic rhetoric and actions are on the rise in our country. The recent shootings in Los Angeles, displays of antisemitic banners at the Daytona 500 Speedway in Florida, spraying of hateful graffiti in New York subway stations, and the so-called “Day of Hate” that antisemitic extremists touted online are a few of the most recent examples in just the past two weeks. 

Fighting antisemitism is at the core of your Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s service to our community. Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council is one of the pillars of that work. By bringing Jewish Puget Sound together, the JCRC responds with a forceful voice to counter antisemitism and works strategically to build greater understanding in the broader society of the Jewish experience with antisemitism.

The JCRC strengthens our advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels for programs and policies that counter antisemitism, and it’s an effective forum for building alliances with other communities for fighting back against hatred and bigotry of all types. A good example is the JCRC’s work in this year’s Washington State legislative session to increase funding for Holocaust and genocide education and toughen penalties against tactics that extremists use to target vulnerable communities.

Jewish Puget Sound has a strong track record of getting such beneficial measures enacted into law, the outcome of advocating for our priorities with a strong, clear voice. Just like Queen Esther, all of us can make a difference by speaking up for the Jewish community.

So, at your Purim celebration, raise a toast to Queen Esther, the impact she made, and the timeless example that she set for all of us.

Chag Purim Sameach!