In conversation with Moshe Freedman, Jewish Chaplain
“Once again, the East Winter Gardens played host to the Canary Wharf Purim party to celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim. Elderly residents from the local Jewish nursing homes came together with professionals from across Canary Wharf for food (especially deserts!), fun and entertainment.
Purim celebrates the events of that took place in the 4th century BCE when God saved the Jewish people from the hands of Haman and the Persian king Ahashverosh. Yet God is conspicuously absent from the story. Our sages learn from this that although God is hidden from us during our day to day activities, looking back at where we have come from tells the story of our lives and reveals the influence God had at every step of the way.
Therefore, we have a tradition to wear masks and fancy dress on Purim to hide the real person we are and remind us of the hidden nature of God. Of course, when the mask slips, the real person is revealed.
However, I think many of us wear several masks as we go through life in order to hide the real person inside. These masks allow us to protect ourselves from perceived threats and social dangers such as feeling different or unusual. We may ‘put on a brave face’ after suffering a bereavement to appear strong and stoic, when secretly we are broken inside. We may hide the fact that we are unable to cope with the stress of work to impress our colleagues or pretend we’re happy when experiencing challenges in our private life. But wearing those masks can take their toll. It is difficult to keep up appearances; we all need an outlet to be ourselves.
The Canary Wharf Chaplaincy is here to help people of any faith or none. We are a confidential listening service provided by all the companies at Canary Wharf, that is free for those who self-refer to us. We are here to help with life’s challenges and ensure that everyone has a safe time and place where they can take off their mask, be themselves and learn how to move forward in life.”