It’s Adar — Be Happy!
People who know me well know that Purim is one of my favorite holidays. As a congregational rabbi I used to decorate the sanctuary for Purim with balloons, crepe paper, banners, and more. I had puppets and masks for the different characters in the Megillah reading and baskets of masks and noise makers. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, but it was just a single evening’s service.
Then I moved into the day school world. As a day school rabbi I marked every Rosh Hodesh with a co-worker, greeting the students with treats as the day began. But for Adar we outdid ourselves. In jester hats and brightly colored wigs, with noise makers in hand, we began the day and the month in a riot of noisy activity. I especially enjoyed the students I referred to as “The Mishenichnas Adar singers.” As my co-worker and I created a happy ruckus, they danced and sang behind us. We pulled out our costume boxes and added to them.
One of the things I love about the idea of increasing joy is that there are no specific instructions on how to do it. Each of us has the opportunity in Adar to do things that are joyous for ourselves.
When I was a congregational rabbi and a day school rabbi, I focused on creating joy with and for my community. Whether through special programs, or candy, or wigs, or masks, or hats, or noisemakers, I tried to create an “Adar spirit.” Since Adar falls during the doldrums of winter (at least in the places that I have lived,) it helps brighten up the days until spring finally comes.
In recent years it has become even more for me important to increase my joy in Adar. As a hospice chaplain I am reminded every day to seize moments and celebrate even the little things in life. As a rabbi who works outside the Jewish community, if I don’t create Adar joy there is no one who will do it for me. So when Adar comes, I increase joy in a big way through lots of small actions. I change my facebook photo to a funny one. I wear sparkly earrings and mascara. I put feathers in my hair. I tell more jokes. I look for every opportunity to bring joy into my day and into the days of the people I meet at work.
I brought bubbles and noisemakers and toys. And I convinced my mostly non-Jewish coworkers to come in costume on Purim and bring food for a Purim seudah. My Indian co-workers wore beautiful saris. Our priest came dressed as a priest. We had a princess, an Elmo, a dog with angel wings, and masks and beads for those without costumes. We had a great time.
This year Adar enters on the heels of more than 2 feet of snow. After shoveling and shoveling and shoveling, I can’t wait to increase my joy. I have the sparkles and glitter and feathers. Bring on Adar – I’m ready!