Purim parades itself as the most joyful day of the year, however, Megillat Esther is a story of intense crisis and violence. At the beginning, Jews face an existential threat, and at the end, Jews kill their enemies on a massive scale. In the wake of October 7, these crises of Purim feel very real as we mourn unimaginably cruel acts of violence against Israelis, encounter increased antisemitism and fear in Jewish communities worldwide, and confront the sobering fact of so many Palestinians killed in recent months.

As a day of fasting and prayer before Purim, Ta’anit Esther is an opportunity to reflect and confront these crises. What can the Megillah teach us about understanding and holding together both realities of violence against Jews and violence by Jews? What theological and practical answers can we glean from the story this year, especially about how to respond in moments of deep fear?

BJ is proud to be a co-sponsor for this day of learning with Hadar, as we explore these questions in observance of Ta’anit Esther and in preparation for reading the Megillah this year.