February 22, 2013
04:12 PM EDT
The White House Office of Public Engagement sends its best wishes to all those celebrating Purim on Sunday. On this holiday, we read the words of the Megillah, which tells of the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people. We recall the courage of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, whose bold actions reversed an evil plot, transforming a day of impending sorrow into a day of happiness. From these heroic individuals, we learn the qualities of leadership, and what it means to sacrifice for a cause larger than oneself.
President Obama echoed this very message in his recent remarks at the presentation of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medals:
“We’ve all got busy lives. We’ve got bills to pay. We’ve got kids to carpool, errands to get done. And in the midst of all the running around, it would be easy -- and even understandable -- for folks to just focus on themselves, to worry about our own lives, to look down the street and see a neighbor in need and say, ‘I’d like to help but I’ve got problems of my own.’ To look across town at a community that’s in despair and say, ‘That’s just too big a challenge for us to be able to take on.’
That’s not who we are. That’s not what we do. That’s not what built this country. In this country, we look out for one another. We get each other’s backs, especially in times of hardship or challenge.”
We continue to hold those same values to look out for our neighbors, and to work together, collectively, for a better future. On Purim, Jewish people reaffirm their commitment to their faith, heritage, and their communities. By rejoicing with family and friends and by sharing with the less fortunate among us, we keep enduring traditions and values alive. Let us reflect on the central lesson of Purim by looking beyond ourselves, so that we too can turn the trials of our communities into sources of light and joy for all. Chag Purim Sameach.
Zachary Kelly handles Jewish Outreach for the Office of Public Engagement