Dear Friend,

Will you be spending Purim almost entirely alone, perhaps just venturing out to hear a socially distanced megillah reading? Do you feel like you’re going crazy from nearly a year of isolation, fear, and uncertainty?

Perhaps we can take heart from Esther. While all the Jews were out on the streets of Persia, giving each other gifts of food, distributing charity, and celebrating in each other’s homes, Esther was bound by proverbial golden chains, trapped in the palace of the king she would never love, among a people who were not her own.

Esther surely yearned to return to the humble streets of Shushan, where she could chat with her friends at the well, listen to her cousin Mordechai expound on the Torah, and just live the life of a Jewish woman.

But she knew that her continued existence in the palace was crucial for the survival of her people, and there she remained, violated, lonely, and resolute.

Over the past many months, we—those with immunodeficiencies, those over a certain age, or those who are simply more cautious—have been bound to the confines of our homes. Even as others have resumed normal life to one degree or another, we’ve remained isolated, firm in our understanding that this is how we can safeguard our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

And we’ve learned a lot over this period of time.

We’ve learned to dig deep into our souls and find contentment and spiritual satisfaction within our homes—something that had been there all along, waiting for us to discover. And we’ve learned to connect with others, even while physically distant.

Like Esther.

Before Esther went to see the king, she asked that all Jews fast and pray for three days, promising that “I and my maids will fast as well.” She was not in the synagogue with them and could not hear their prayers. But she knew that they were thinking of her, supporting her, and praying for her. And that gave her the courage to soldier on.

We are each Esther in our own lives.

We have challenges. We may be lonely. We may be frightened. And we may wonder what G‑d wants from us.

But we are not alone. The Jewish people are one giant family, bound together by spiritual cords stronger than any pandemic, longer than the farthest distance, and more resilient than any virus.

Even though we are distancing, we will not forget to do the four mitzvahs of Purim: Hearing the Megillah (night and day, either attending a socially distanced megillah reading, or having someone come over and read from a distance), sending mishloach manot food packages (perhaps by ordering takeout to be delivered to a dear friend), giving matanot la’evyonim charity to the poor (online if need be), and enjoying a festive meal (early this year, as not to interfere with Shabbat).

From our home to yours,

L’chaim and happy Purim from your friends @