Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The word, Purim, conjures up images of Jewish unity. 1) Dancing with strangers. There is a custom at some yeshivot in Israel to send their students to Jerusalem for Shushan Purim. They go to people’s homes in costume, sing and dance with the residents and ask for donations. Any other day, such behavior would be bizarre and intrusive. But on Purim, we lower our defenses and allow our love for Jews of all types to surface, such that I actually look forward to dancing with people I have never seen and will likely never see again.

2) Internet Torah Study. I love Tanach study, but find the parshat hashavua cycle challenging – sometimes because there is not enough time to ponder the parsha’s contents and sometimes because its contents are too far removed. Purim provides just enough time to engage with the fascinating ideas and narrative of Megillat Esther. Each year, I take advantage of this (and that I can use social media to reach people everywhere) and open a discussion about one issue, which engages many people to apply their own perspectives and strengthen Jewish unity through Torah study.


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Rabbi Francis Nataf ( is a Jerusalem-based educator and thinker and the author of four books of contemporary Torah commentary. His parshah column appears weekly in The Jewish Press. Rabbi Nataf is also the author of, "Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus"