From sadness to gladness – Purim, a time for giving

Purim (this year 20th March, Shushan Purim 21st March) is a festival that commemorates the dramatic deliverance of the Jewish people living in the ancient Persian Empire from a plot by Haman the Agagite to annihilate them, as recorded in the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther).

As a result, Purim is an extremely joyous festival – with feasting, getting tipsy, dressing up and listening to stories a must – but there is also a huge focus on giving.

The Book of Esther asks us to accomplish “the sending of portions one man to another, and gifts to the poor” (9:22).  According to Jewish tradition, each adult must give two different foods to one person, and two charitable donations to two poor people. And as a result, Purim has evolved into a major gift-giving event with food parcels called mishloach manot collected and distributed to those in need, and collection of charity donations – tzedakah – is even more of a particular focus than usual. Which says a lot!  The underlying reason behind all this is that the Purim’s joy can’t be complete unless those less fortunate can also join in the celebrations.

So what has this got to do with volunteering you might ask?

Volunteering is about giving time and not money, but it does bring utter joy to those who are on the receiving end of the giving.

Volunteering enables organisations to bring joy to people throughout the year – whether it’s the elderly person in care home who gets a weekly visit from a befriender, or the child who gets help learning to read, or whether it’s about the person who volunteers to fundraise or work in a charity shop the funds of which help plant trees, provide a minibus or any number of other great things for an charity organisation, that in the end brings gladness to people.

Specifically for Purim, volunteering is about helping bring joy to people who need it.  It could be shaking a bucket to get money or collecting up food to distribute as mishloach manot or – if you’re that way inclined – it could be directly amusing people by performing or helping in a Purim spiel (play).  There are just so many ways of giving your time.

So, without further ado, here are a variety of Purim volunteering opportunities so you can give your time to bring others joy! Happy Purim to everyone!

And remember, we’ve got thousands of other Jewish volunteering opportunities lined up for you at


Categories: Leonie's View


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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  1. JVN Volunteering Perspectives: Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner | The Jewish Volunteering Network Blog - March 1, 2012

    […] to individuals, to the community and to society as a whole.  As we come up to Purim next week, which is such a time of giving, it seems really appropriate to share a truly moving perspective on how volunteering has the power […]

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