Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
November 2004

Special Purims -- Part 2

The Librarian's Lobby column for March 2000 talked about special Purims. A special Purim is a local or family celebration after a deliverance from captivity or a dangerous situation. One contemporary special "Purim" was established by Rabbi Norman Frimer (1916-1993) after the March 9,1997 take over the Washington, DC headquarters of the B'nai B'rith. In the March 2000 column I did not tell the story of the Frimer Family Purim. During a recent Shabbat, Rabbi Frimer's son, Dov was visiting my shul. A couple of years ago someone sent me an e-mail asked about the Frimer Family Purim and I didn't know much about it except that it existed. The name "Frimer" jogged my memory and I mentioned this e-mail about the special Purim to Dov. He answered me by handing me a book that he edited of his father works. Two chapters in the book, A Jewish Quest for Religious Meaning: collected essays, by Norman Frimer (Hoboken, NJ : Ktav Publishing House ; Washington, DC : B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundations, 1993) are devoted to the siege and the establishment of the special family Purim, and the family celebration.

During the 39 hour ordeal of March 1977 Rabbi Frimer the thought of establishing a Frimer Family Purim crossed his mind. He remembered the Purim established by Maimonides and planned, when liberated that he would not forget the day of terror. He established a personal fast day for 20th day of Adar and the 21st was established by his family as a Purim Katan. The Frimer Family Council discussed the subject concerning the halakhic sources, form and content of the observances, and liturgy. They debated the recitation of Shehehiyanu and Hallel. Should they impose the observance on the grandchildren?

After a year of discussions, letters and phone calls, they decided the grandchildren would be part of the celebrations at least while the grandfather was alive. They would serve a festive meal, words of Torah, singing, Psalms from Hallel, selections from the Siddur, and other songs from the Jewish experience. The Frimer Family Council further said that the day of Adar 21 would be commemorated with acts of tsedakah and family Torah study during the day or during the seudah.

Grandchildren would participate in the celebration on a voluntary basis in consultation with their parents. Upon bar/bat mitzvah they would decide to accept the observance as an obligation. Over the years the celebration established a fixed liturgy that included exact Psalms that they would recite.

There are many halakhic questions that are raised in the chapter of A Jewish Quest for Religious Meaning covering the subject. Questions included dealing with Shehehiyanu, reciting Hallel, making blessings, and the timing of the seudah. Many of the questions parallel those raised concerning the observance Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha-Atsma'ut). Thus the family halakhic discussions have implications for the larger community.

Thus I learned, one must be careful what you ask, the respondent may hand you a book on the topic.


Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit our web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at: http://home.earthlink.net/~DDStuhlman/liblob.htm.

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Asher's bar mitzvah speech.

 ©2004 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised November 18, 2004