Purim Skates

I might have been distracted when Sifiso asked me to sign the indemnity form. Naomi wasn’t as horrified as she should have been. She tells me she assumed I was mistakenly duplicating the document she had already completed for Yudi. Nope, I had signed off permission for Shaina to roller skate. You heard me. I green-lighted skates for our girl who struggles to balance on her own two feet. A warning light may have briefly flashed in my brain, but I ignored it in the Purim party chaos. “Here you go, Sifiso,” I handed the paper to Shaina’s carer, glimpsing the first aid kit against the wall. 

Let me dial the story back one notch. Our community’s Purim party theme this year was “Back to the 80’s”. What could be more eighties than roller skating, right? So, we hired a company to set up a skating rink in our Shul hall. The kids loved it, whether zipping past at speed or face-planting the floor. 

Shaina wanted in on the action. 

I convinced myself Si would be able to support her as she glided around the rink- as many parents did for their kids. Naomi’s expression indicated that I had either lost my mind or allowed the Purim spirits to go to my head. 

In the end, Shaina didn’t skate. She proudly wore the skates and knee guards and grinned for the camera. After a minute, Sifiso removed the rollers, and Shaina went to hang out with her Shul friends of all ages. She was grateful that they had come to what was obviously her party.

Her near-skating experience says a lot about Shaina and offers some valuable life lessons. 

Purim is the happiest day of the Jewish year, ergo, the perfect day for Shaina. She was game for the full Purim experience. Despite her nano attention span, she was quiet throughout the Megillah reading. Although she is easily startled by noise, she giggled when the kids yelled and stomped when we read Haman’s name. 

She got her biggest laughs from her friends’ dress-up costumes. And, she received more mishloach manot food gifts than any of us (no surprises there). Always ready for a dance session, Shaina gyrated to the beats at school and wiggled along with the music as we drove around town. 

Purim culminated in our communal party, and she could not wait to get there. The party had the elements she loves- from her favourite hot chips to craft activities to chilling with her peeps. She only had one final experience to sample- roller skating. 

I suspect that Shaina knew she wouldn’t be able to skate. Balance is a challenge without wheels under her feet. She must have decided that, if she couldn’t skate, she could at least wear the skates. It wasn’t just for the photo op; she wanted to be part of every aspect of Purim.

When she chose to put on those skates, Shaina taught us a few things. Lesson one: If you see exciting, happy things around you, find a way to participate. Lesson two: If you can’t do something fully, at least do your best. You cannot be happy if you opt out without trying. We all have our limitations, but they need not limit us more than necessary. Can’t skate? Put on the skates and feel you’ve done your best to be part of the action. Most importantly, lesson three: Rather than moan because she couldn’t participate, Shaina walked over to the rink to applaud everyone who could. 

Published by rabbiarishishler

Husband, father and rabbi of Chabad of Strathavon in Johannesburg, South Africa.

4 thoughts on “Purim Skates

  1. This darling little girl climbs deeper into my heart with every one of these emails that I read. A privilege to share her experiences and excitement. Best love, a good Shabbos to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Each week that I read about Shaina, her trials and numerous successes, I feel so humbled.
    While life may be filled with challenges for you and your family, it’s important to acknowledge that none of this is in vain.
    Your strength and humour are inspiring and teach us so much about appreciating life.
    May your family continue to inspire.
    Wishing you all a beautiful Shabbos

    Liked by 1 person

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