Judy Simon
Judy Simon Judy is a mother of six, lives in Beit El and works as the Tourism Coordinator for the town. Wednesday 4.3.15 2 Comments 4154 views

Hadassah of Purim

As a kid, I loved the holiday of Purim. The costumes, the treats, the noisy-happy atmosphere. The grinding of groggers[1] at Haman's name as the Megilla[2] story was read was a task that the children excelled at and which I took very seriously. The traditional triangle-shaped jelly-filled Hamentaschen cookies were a favorite of mine. And the assembly line on the dining room table where we packed the Mishloach Manot packages of food and treats to be delivered to our friends and neighbors was anticipated with joy.

Purim is a holiday tailor-made for the enjoyment of the children, though the commandment to be joyful is incumbent upon every Jew during the festive month of Adar.

In my twelfth grade year, Purim's rosy glow went dark for me. My grandmother, who had lived with us ever since my grandfather had died four years previously, passed away on Purim. My beloved bubbe[3], whose name was Hadassah just like Queen Esther of the Purim story[4], was smart, beautiful, and cared deeply for the Jewish people.

We buried my bubbe on a cold and rainy day, and teenage me watched the open grave fill with water as the casket was lowered, and watched the tears stream down my father's ashen cheeks. There was no eulogy, as is customary for a Purim burial.

The ache remained in my heart on the following Purim which I spent in Israel, also in the rain. How does one fulfill the commandment to be happy while combating mixed emotions of sadness, guilt and pain?

For many years, Purim was too noisy for me, too garish and bright. Of course I went to hear the reading of the Megilla, smiled at the adorable costumes of the neighborhood children, and enjoyed the ubiquitous Hamentaschen cookies. But the light in my once favorite holiday was decidedly dimmer.

Years later, when my first child was born, we named her Hadasa after my beloved grandmother. She grew to be beautiful, smart, caring and giving just like her namesake. She is a bookworm and has a knack for languages just like Bubbe Hadassah. She is also very much an individual, carving her own path in life as her great-grandmother had done so many years before.

On Hadasa's first Purim, I dressed her up as a ladybug, and my Purim light returned.

My now-23 year old daughter has a zest for life.

We immigrated to Israel with her when she was a toddler, and she grew up in this beautiful country. Hebrew rolls off her tongue as easily and articulately as English. She loves Purim as I did, and uses her artistic talent to make-up her siblings and herself.

Now I make sure to tell stories of my Bubbe Hadassah to my children every Purim. I tell of Bubbe's sensitive heart, looking for equality and a solution to the poverty she witnessed by becoming active in the Communist Movement. I tell of her parents who sent her away to far-off America to save her from the Marxists, saving her instead from Hitler. I tell my bi-lingual children that Bubbe Hadassah knew six languages fluently before coming to the US, but English was not one of them, and she worked very hard to learn the language of her adopted land. I tell of her trials which sent her searching for the God of her childhood, and of her return to a Torah lifestyle. She introduced me to the Civil Rights Movement by giving me the book Black Like Me to read. She fed the squirrels and the birds on her porch, and they learned to trust her enough to eat out of her hand.

I tell my children of the wonderful woman who was my grandmother.

And I picture Bubbe Hadassah, smiling down at her great-grandchildren, as they celebrate the story of Queen Esther saving the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

Purim is once again a time of joy for me.

Happy Purim.


(Dedicated to the memory of Hadassah [daughter of Shmuel and Sarah] Dorevitch nee Tafolovsky)

[1] Noisemakers, sounded when the name of the adversary of the Purim story, Haman, is read aloud.

[2] Literally, “scroll,” referring to the Book of Esther, read on Purim.

[3] Grandmother in Yiddish.

[4] The Book of Esther relates that Esther had an additional name, Hadassah.


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Sam in Chicago (not verified) commented Friday 6.3.15

That's a beautiful post. And the face art of Hadasa (the younger) is incredible!

Avigayel (not verified) commented Friday 6.3.15

In this short article you led us through your quest of returning the light & joy to Purim.