24 Feb
The other day, a woman named Esther walked from Netanya to communities in north Samaria Prime Minister Sharon intends to “disengage.” No 
press releases, no paparazzi or media seeking interviews, in fact, no security just police, calling them “stupid,” seeking to stop Esther
and her friends. Undaunted, Esther and the women continued walking,
joined by a dozen or so others from all over Israel- Hebron, south of Jerusalem, Golan, Shomron. Nobody special to the world, the band of
sisters did something spectacular, they walked a two day Women’s
Solidarity Walk, blue-and-white and led all over by Penina Moati. The modern day matriarchs became Jewish royalty, all of them, heroines.

Unlike the Material Girl, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Leon Penn
Ritchie, who cancelled a tour of Israel, alleging terrorist threats to her family, Esther and the women, some babies in hand, fearlessly
marched to a town Israel and the Palestinian Authority share, Baka-Al-Gharbiya as the Israeli-Arabs call it, Baka-Al-Sharkiya, to the rest of the world. Police citing "concern for Arab sensitivities," ordered Esther Eliezer of Netanya and her “sisters for Gaza survival” to “board an armored bus to take them a roundabout way to northern Samaria, rather than directly through Baka Al-Sharkiya” according to Mid-East analyst Emmanuel Winston.  The women refused, walking to their destination center of politics searing the Knesset, in the footsteps of the real Queen Esther, a single woman who stepped center stage from a cast of thousands.

The day before the show of solidarity, Jews around the world celebrated Queen Esther’s sacrificing herself for salvation, a holiday memorializing a woman who forsook her marriage to the man she loved in order to prevent his execution. As if not enough, Esther remained silent about her religion. When it was time to save her people, risking death by going before the King uninvited, she acknowledged her fate was sealed unless she acted, revealing all. She said, “I will go into the King, not in accordance to the law, and as I am lost, so, I must be lost,” Esther 4:16.

Purim, the annual Jewish holiday celebrated with feasting, gift giving to poor, matanot le’evyonim, and, while costumed, exchanging food gifts, mashloach manot, with friends, memorializes with reading, the Book, the Megillah, the story of disguise and allegorical concealment teaching how life events continue without knowing what goes on behind the scenes.

Esther’s Story, Purim, while viewed most often as the story of a beautiful young woman saving her nation, is, in actuality, textbook, unwarranted persecution of the Jews, anti-semitism by Haman, sworn to destroying the entire Jewish people. Enraged Haman told the King Achashverosh, “The Jews are different, they won’t eat our food, they keep Shabbat, they won’t marry our daughters.” Haman offered Achashverosh 750 tons of silver, 10,000 bricks, for the right to decimate the Jews. The King had no objections since the revenue from taxes he would lose, Haman would cover, leaving no loss. “Pur,” “lots,” cast, the day for 13th of Adar, a day for Jewish slaughter.

Pop royalty, Madonna, went public with her decision to assume a Hebrew name. Media paid attention through the looking glass of celebrity. Gossip fauxed knowledge of the diva’s dabbling in Judaism’s rich ancient culture. Then, by chance, the day the women walked, Esther Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Leon Penn Ritchie, named of Judaism’s heroine, and the pop star’s husband, Guy, thought it kitsch to play pope, and nun, at a Kabbalah center Purim party in London. Back in the habit so similar to her wimple and crucifix donned in her 1989, “Like A Prayer,” video, timing is everything, as is sacrilege. With Madonna’s current husband costumed himself as the Pontiff dying at the Vatican, costuming herself as a nun, the diva, telling 20/20’s Cynthia McFadden she chose Esther as her Hebrew name to “attach myself to the energy of a different name,” might better have been suited for naming herself after the other Purim Queen, Vashti, Ahasverous’ first wife that Esther replaced.

Vashti’s father was Belshazzar, King of the Empire. He commanded guests at a feast to drink from holy vessels he stole from the Temple. While praising to his guests the idolatrous “gods of gold and silver,” a large unattached finger appeared and wrote on the wall, “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end … your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That night, invading hoards of Persians and Medes attacked, Princess Vashti survived. Her fate, according to Talmud, was sealed because she deliberately humiliated Jewish women forcing them to violate their modesty, their Sabbath and shed belief in a celestial ruler beyond the reach of any monarch.

It seems when the “Material Girl” chose Esther’s name, the lesson of the modest girl who became Queen was lost to her but found, again, when true royalty walked unpretentious and simple in clothing, with little said about who they were and where they were going, on a Sunday walk, tiyul, for temperance. Just sisters amongst friends embracing their beautiful souls reflective of a modest woman King Ahausverous fell in love with over bejewelled beauties vying to become his replacement in a culture of queens.

Esther of Netanya’s solidarity walk is mindful of the fate of all Ahasverous’ threatening Jews. Premature with his celebratory 6 month feast anticipating the end of the Jewish people, the King pranced in the garb of the Jewish High Priest, Kohen Gadol. He brought out the Temple’s Holy Vessels he conquered from his wife’s father. Taunting Jews to attend his “feast of Jewish defeat,” Ahausverous said, “Torah is proven false, so give up your hope and join us,” many attended, some say to give the appearance of support for the king.  So it goes, Achashverosh, miscalculating the start date of the Exile thinking it began with the first Jews leaving Israel, rather than from the destruction of the Temple, 11 years later…. Well, Ahausverous is gone while Jews prevail, time and again, against his copy cats.

God’s hand guides his people through painful events in a politically dark world. When lessons are forgotten, God repeats them, commanding, “Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way when you were leaving Egypt,” Deut. 25:17-19, no accidents, just events God directs. Taking opportunity of people’s free will to form a tapestry of purpose and destiny, Esther’s in history remind that survival of the Jews is dependent on connecting to God, the One power behind everything that happens including the redemption of the His people. Genocides of the Jewish people that loomed in the days of Ahausveraus, threaten Gush Katif and other communities because, as one resident of Beitar Ilit said, God in the world is forgotten. 

As Mordechai told his Esther and generations of Esthers to come, “It is certain the Jewish people will be saved one way or another because God promised to Abraham so long ago we will never be destroyed. So really the only issue here is you…” the Esthers of long ago and of Netanya, making it obvious, what Esther Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Leon Penn Ritchie is, and isn’t, a woman for whom it is immaterial to “walk the walk” in solidarity with her “chosen” people.


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