Of Purim and St. Paddy's, Land, Rebellion and Booze

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Purim falls this year on March 16, and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. It appears that Jews will be nursing their hangovers on Monday morning just as the Irish are getting to work on theirs. What’s significant, year after year, is that the two peoples that did so much to define modern America have these overlapping holidays characterized by intoxication.

I wrote the following Op-Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times exactly 30 years ago, on March 16, 1984, when Purim and St. Patrick’s Day both fell on the 17th. I was reflecting on the holidays’ many parallels and echoes: drinking, partitioned homelands, revived languages, rebellion against the Brits.

As I re-read it now, I’m struck by how much has changed, how much no longer applies. Besides the passing of the generations that witnessed liberation, I sense a full generation later that Ireland has dealt with the temptations of religious passion more temperately than Israel has. Ireland resolved to put its religio-territorial war behind it and get on with things, while Israel’s territorial wars have become ever more religion-driven and seem increasingly insoluble.

It’s striking, too, how the revolutionary impulse has spread beyond the realm of teenage nothing-to-lose bravado to a new world of middle-class, middle-age families taking to the streets worldwide.

Most of all, I’d sort of forgotten how hopeful things used to seem. Anyhow, here it is (with apologies for the headline—I didn’t write it):

Written by

J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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Of Purim and St. Paddy's, Land, Rebellion and Booze

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