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DEIJ Update: Standing Up to Anti-Asian Violence and Honoring February and March Holidays

February 25, 2021

Purim, also referred to as Festival of Lots, is a Jewish holiday that began at sundown this year on February 25, 2021. It occurs every year on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar.

As conveyed in the Book of Ester, Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official or vizier to King Ahasuerus, was planning to kill all Jews in the empire. Those plans were blocked. Thus, this holiday honors the saving of the Jewish people from the Persian Empire in 5th century BCE by Esther, the Queen of Persia. 

Purim is known for its joyous celebration. In observance of Purim, followers of the Jewish faith feast and rejoice with costumes, food and drink referred to as "mishloach manot." A popular treat enjoyed during Purim is a triangle-shaped cookie called "hamantaschen." Donating to the poor, gift exchanging, performing, and giving public readings from the Book of Esther, are other ways this holiday is commemorated. Participate and grow your knowledge of Purim by exploring the following:

The Purim Story for Kids—PJ Library 

11 Children Books About Purim—Feminist Books For Kids 

Masks, musicals and mixology — your guide to virtual Purim—Forward 

Lent is a solemn observance in the Christian liturgical calendar and consists of a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This year it began on February 17, 2021, Ash Wednesday, and ends on April 3, 2021, the night before Easter.  

During Lent, observants serve by giving alms, practicing self-control through fasting, and seeking to become closer to the Lord by reading sacred scriptures. They are called to abstain from indulgences and to heavily contemplate on ways in which they may seek to follow in Christ’s steps more faithfully. 

Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all preceding Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. Holy Thursday, Palm Sunday and if possible, Holy Saturday are included in the fast as well. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, for members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards. Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are expected to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris (one’s own right). In addition to diet limitations, millions of people “give something up” or “take something on” as a sign of sacrifice or a way to test their self-discipline as biblical scriptures depict Christ doing for the same length of time. This is also known as the Temptation of Christ. For 40 days, people choose to give up a favorite food or bad habit such as smoking or take on something new such as healthy eating, volunteering, etc. No matter the choice, all that participate in Lent do so knowing that it is truly a period dedicated to the recommitment of one’s faith and a chance as a new beginning. It is a call for all those gone astray from the church to return. 

For more understanding about Lent explore the following: 


21 Easy Meatless Lent Recipes—Spruce Eats 

20 Lenten Resources for the Whole Family—Katie Warner

Next month, March is Women’s Herstory Month (WHM). The National Women’s History Alliance decided to extend its centennial celebrations and keep its focus on women’s suffrage. The 2021 theme is Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced. Women’s Herstory month is dedicated to recognizing girls and women who have done and continue to do amazing things throughout the world. During WHM all are invited to give more attention to and actively support the growth of determined women and girls. This year, how do you and your family plan to commemorate Women’s Herstory Month?  

As I am sure you have heard, recently Asian Americans have increasingly been victims of violence and hate crimes across our country. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring, Asian Americans have faced racist violence at a much higher rate than previous years. The NYPD reported that hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020. In the Oakland, CA Chinatown, there have been upwards of 20 violent attacks and robberies of Asian Americans reported since January of this year. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic and xenophobic rhetoric in our country has fueled the long history of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States. 

Léman, as a diverse and inclusive school with members of the Asian and Asian-American community across our day and boarding families, faculty and staff, takes a stand against these acts of violence and hate. We stand with our Asian and Asian-American community members and acknowledge the pain and fear these incidents can cause. As we continue our work in the diversity, equity and inclusion space and make progress against our antiracism goals, we will continue to educate ourselves and our students and families about anti-Asian racism. We aim to support our community members and guide students in taking action against hate.


In solidarity and with warm wishes, 

Lakiya Burrell

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her


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