Mask Up

Feb 5, 2021 | Rabbi Azriel's Column

I had never been someone to wear a mask. I found masks to be hot, smelly, sticky, just all-around annoying. To avoid a big thing over my face or head, every year when Purim came around, I would always volunteer to be the person who would wear the elaborate costume with a wig or funny outfit, just as long as it didn’t include a mask. Well, little did I know that masks would become reminiscent of the long-lost candies in jacket pockets – throwing on a jacket as I walk out the door and find my old mask crumpled in the pocket, needing to retrieve a new one from the sleeve of surgical masks in my car.

Hazah! Now! However! It has finally arrived at the time of year where my year-long mask-wearing practice would eventually become useful. Purim is here! It is in February, just weeks away. Now, you may say, “Purim is early this year,” I would contend it is not, for it always falls on the same date…well, the same Hebrew date.

Purim. What a holiday! It was generally filled with reading the megillah, booing Hamen, and eating little, strangely shaped cookies with all kinds of filling (I am partial to fruit fillings). Enjoying the bounce-houses, makeup, costumes, carnival games, prizes. Purim can be all kinds of fun, and this year, though it might not be the same as it has been in many past years, it will continue to build upon centuries of celebrations and merriment. At Temple Beth Or, our celebration will take place outside and in a manner which promotes safety and fun at the same time. Be sure to create a ‘CARstume’ to show off to the community. Most importantly, it’s your chance to show just what your mask can do (and look like). Finally, an opportunity to bring masks to life and not only be useful but celebratory!

Hopefully, mask wearing will become a thing of the past in the not-so-distant future, but as we make our way through the COVID era, we have to pause to notice the good stuff. This year, one of the good things that I have learned is that I will never again have to complain about being assigned the costume with a mask in any future Purim Spiel.
We look forward to seeing you reading Megillat Ester together on February 26th at our Shabbat service and celebrating together on Sunday, February 28th, in our parking lot celebration of Purim during Makor hours.

Rabbi Ben Azriel

Rabbi Ben Azriel

Assistant Rabbi of Temple Beth Or

Ben is originally from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. He is an Alum of The Ohio State University, where he earned a dual-major in Political Science and Economics with a specialty in American judicial politics and economic regression analysis. While in school, Ben was a Youth Engagement Director for a local synagogue. After finishing at OSU, Ben worked as a tax accountant for two years in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, Ben was the Financial Director of a Columbus congregation. Ben also served on the staff of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute for five years in various positions and has staffed multiple trips to Israel. During rabbinical school, Ben worked as a student Rabbi at Temple B’nai Israel in Northern Michigan and B’nai Israel In Parkersburg, WV. Also, he served Hillels at Texas A&M University, University of Texas-Austin and Miami University in Oxford. Ben strives to bring his love for Judaism, which formed the ethics he lives his life by, with his knowledge for program development and administration, to create meaningful education, program, service, and fiscal opportunities. Ben lives in Mariemont, outside of Cincinnati, with his wife Rachel (his high school sweetheart), a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, and their dog Wrigley.

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