A FRAMEWORK WITHOUT MASKS

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By: Ariela Shanider Ackerman, Rosh Chinuch Hanoar Hatzioni B’Peru

Purim is the chag of joy, in which we remember an interesting chapter in the history of
the Jewish people and the incredible act of heroism of Esther and Mordechai who saved
the Jews from Haman’s plans.

This holiday has many traditions and customs, from the purely religious practices, such as
the reading of the Megillah, to more secular and symbolic celebrations, such as big family
dinners, songs and dances.

A typical custom of this chag that is seen repeatedly in all parts and communities in the
world is the famous colorful and fun costumes. This is a beautiful tradition in which we
all, in one way or another, experience and learn about this holiday. This custom stems
from the principle that during the entire story of Purim, God does not appear nor is he
mentioned, and neither are acts performed by him. That is why the symbolism of
costumes was born, since God is hidden during the entire story of Purim. The symbolism
is much more natural and present in our daily lives in the tnua than we believe.

Next, I wish to explain the parallelism. The tnua, in many communities of the diaspora,
occupies a unique and special place in the lives of the youths, being that it becomes
increasingly relevant in the identity formation and consolidation of our chanichim.

Perhaps, part of the tnua’s success is from recognizing the need to create a framework of
belonging where everyone identifies and feels 100% comfortable, safe and authentic.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the chanich as a human being who feels and
expresses. Within this context, the madrich is aware of the enormous work that his/her
role entails and means, recognizes the power he/she administrates and, therefore, the
responsibility he/she carries in his/her hands. This power and beautiful responsibility is to
educate; that is similar to the way we transmit different concepts and ideas through
different processes along our hadracha: it is our job to remove mask after mask, look for
the essence in each chanich and give them the opportunity to show themselves to the
world in their entirety and complexity. Through personal example (Dugma Ishit), the
ethical basis of our educational practice, we build a warm environment, a framework that
provides stability, a whole place with opportunities and great horizons.

This framework is where our main objective is the integral and personal development of
every chanich. It does not matter what scenario we are in; we can offer each chanich the
opportunity to “remove the mask” to feel like he/she belongs because there is nothing to
hide.

As madrichim, we educate to engage, recognize, internalize and show that our chanichim
are full-blown human beings, beings who feel, who have an identity, qualities, virtues and
many things to improve ahead as well.

The job of a madrich is not simple; it is challenging and complex. But at the same time is
valuable, important and irreplaceable in regard to the shaping of identity of our
chanichim. However, it could go unnoticed in the eyes of those who are not part of the
tnua.

In this context, I believe that Purim offers us a great opportunity to recognize the role of
the madrich, especially in the current context in which we live. People who, with
responsibility, will and a lot of strength, take into their hands the commitment to educate
and seek to build a “framework without masks.”

Chag Purim Sameach!

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