Veggietales, let’s talk about it. Purim just recently came and went. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. I wanted to take a moment to talk about a video that some Jewish families use while celebrating Purim with young children, “Veggietales: Esther, the Girl Who Became Queen”.
For those of you who are new to the Veggietales circle, they are a Christian company who produces wholesome biblical videos (and now TV shows) for young children. That being said, I have read enough articles to know that the subject of incorporating anything Christian affiliated into the Jewish home can be a “hot topic”. So for the sake of being unbiased I will share my views on both sides.
Veggietales: Esther, the Girl who Became Queen” is a 40-ish minute movie that recalls the Book of Esther in a way that young children can understand. I have seen plenty of Veggietales movies in my time and I always squirmed at the end of the program when QWERTY (the friendly, biblical computer) popped up with a bible verse that was always from the Christian New Testament. However, this movie has none of that. Gone are the Bob and Larry introductions whilst reading letters from children asking questions about life lessons. Gone are the dancing peas and QWERTY-given wisdom. Instead, this movie solely focuses on Esther (being Jewish) and her dear cousin Mordechai conquering evil Hamen and banishing him to “The Isle of Perpetual Tickling”.
Pros: As a Jewish parent it can be very difficult to find Jewish videos and TV shows that are geared towards the holidays. After watching this movie I thought it was cute and a loose way to show Jewish children what the story of Esther is all about. Should it replace hearing the Megillah reading? Absolutely not. But the songs are very upbeat and I could appreciate Veggietales substituting the gallows for the “Isle of Perpetual Tickling”. Overall I can see it being a fun, movie for Jewish families to snuggle up while eating a freshly baked hamentashen. If we can incorporate rainbow hamentashen into our Purim schedule why not use this movie as a fun Jewish technological tool?
Cons: I once read an article on Kveller.com that was titled, “Actually You Can’t Celebrate Hanukkah AND Christmas”. I found myself agreeing with many of the points that the author wrote. I love being creative and putting a “twist” on Jewish traditions, but there is only so far that I’m willing to go. I must admit that there will always be a very traditional side of me that, as a mother, will stand firm in teaching my child about their identity as a Jew. Will a biblical movie about the Book of Esther confuse my child? I don’t know. I am inclined to say no because I would only use it as a supplementary tool to the overall experience of celebrating Purim. Lest we forget that the four mitzvot of Purim are: having a festive meal, mishloach manot, hearing the megillah read, and giving tzedakah. Also, while the Veggietales movie is fair in its explaination, we shouldn’t forget that Shalom Sesame also has several great videos about Purim that they have posted for Jewish children. You can view them on the PJ Library site here. This movie should be taken with a grain of salt and when your child/ren are old enough they should hear the story of Esther in its proper form.
So you be the judge. Do you think that a movie like this from a Christian company is a good tool to use at Purim?