Chag Sameach! Happy Purim Everyone!
This year I sat up tossing and turning wondering how I would celebrate this joyful holiday with my family. When I was young, my parents would push me to get creative with my Purim costume. One year I took a cardboard box and became a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. Another year I was a giant M&M. (I never knew how many things you could do with a simple box!). Clad in our costumes we would head to our local synagogue for the Purim Carnival. Admittedly it was crowded, crazy, and often I felt a bit overwhelmed.
As an adult now, I have sought a deeper meaning to the real meaning of Purim. We celebrate Purim and remember our religious freedom. We remember our right to express ourselves and stand up for what we believe in, just as Esther stood up for our people against the evil adviser Hamen.
But how do you teach that message to a young child? How do you teach children to enjoy the beauty of laughter and not taking oneself too seriously? How do you impart the meaning of religious freedom to a young, developing mind?
We began the morning off with doing some fun activity worksheets and matching words from A Jewish Homeschool Blog. Blog Author Danit Shusterman has a fabulous website devoted to providing free Jewish printable activities for children K-2nd grade. In her Purim Activity Pack you will find a free printable recipe for Hamentashen. Needless to say, after we were done with the worksheets we began making a big batch of Hamentashen!
Next, we were off to the store to pick up some noisemakers (thank you Party City) and face paint to make some ridiculous but fun costumes. In the end there was a fairy, a cat, and an animal trainer dancing around the house.
After a delicious dinner I curled up with my family and watched an animated version of the megillah reading from G-dcast. What an amazing site! This video was a fantastic way to teach children about the story of Esther all while keeping it in the proper attention span. You can view the video here:
Finally we scrubbed off the paste-y face paint, clamored into our pajamas and placed several coins in our tzedakah box. It is said that when you reach a moment in life– a simple, joyful moment that you should pause and give thanks. In Judaism we say the Shehecheyanu. We say…
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehechehyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Our praise to You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all:
for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this season.