Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Purim!

(My essay for Segullah is featured today on Come on over!)

It’s a crazy year for holidays. We have the earliest Easter since 1913, putting St. Patrick’s Day in the same week as Easter. But if you were wishing for one more holiday this week, Purim falls on March 21-22 (Friday and Saturday).

Purim celebrates the Feast of Esther. If you’re not picky about when you honor your Jewish holidays, it’s an engaging Bible story lesson anytime. It’s also a good example of a tradition that helps children understand scripture stories through active participation.

So, here’s how to celebrate Purim:

• Make or find some noise makers—percussion instruments and pots and pans work great, or you can make your own Purim gragger.

• Read or retell the Book of Esther. Every time you say “Haman” (the bad guy), your audience boos and makes a lot of noise. Every time you say “Mordecai” (the hero), they cheer and make a lot of noise.

• Next, act out the story of Esther. We made simple finger puppets. In our family, everyone likes to play every part, so we end up role-playing the whole story three or four times.

• If you’re feeling really ambitious, send gifts to your neighbors and the poor and/or make cookies in the shape of Haman’s three-cornered hat (hamantaschen). At this point, my Jewish friend Mike always reminds me that you’re supposed to drink until you can’t tell the difference between blessed be evil and cursed be good, but I don’t see that part in the Book of Esther. (Sorry, Mike!)

For child-oriented Purim games, recipes, and projects, try the Crayola website or

By the time you’ve done all this celebrating, you’ve also taught the story of Esther several times, and the children have participated in it each time. I still get chills thinking about my 4-year-old declaring, “If I die, I die.” It’s a powerful story, even 2500 years later.


Christine Thackeray said...

Fun! I need to start partying!

Doug Johnston said...

I went to the St. Patrick's Day parade in SLC last Saturday. My daughter was Irish Dancing in it, and I really wanted to be Irish, if only for a day.