Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Purim!

Ben dressed as a Blue Monster celebrating Purim with his classmates.
As I've written about before, I love holidays - I love celebrating them and I love learning about new holidays from different countries, cultures, and religions.  This week, my son  has been introducing us to a new (for our family) holiday:  Purim.

For those who don't know,the story of Purim appears in the Book of Esther.  The evil Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people.  The King, who was unknowingly married to a Jew (Esther), placed the fate of the Jewish people in Haman's hands.  Mordecai, Esther's cousin, discovered the plot, and persuaded Esther to speak to the King on behalf of the Jewish people. Esther revealed the plot to the King, and Haman and his followers were murdered in place of Mordecai and the Jews.  Purim celebrates the deliverance from massacre.  The celebration consists of eating, drinking, and being merry.  I have heard it described by some as the "Jewish Mardi Gras."

While my family is not Jewish, I can get behind any holiday that celebrates a woman speaking truth to power, and certainly one that advocates eating, drinking, and being merry.  As a long-time fan of hamentaschen, it's good for me to finally know what these little triangles I love to devour actually represent (Haman's three-cornered hat).

Delicious plate of Hamentaschen
Because my son has never celebrated Purim before, this whole week at his school has been an exciting adventure.  He and his classmates made noise-makers, put on a puppet show telling the story of Purim, designed masks, dressed up in costumes for a parade, and baked hamentaschen for themselves.  And because not everyone in his class comes to school every day of the week - they are actually celebrating on two days, just to be sure everyone has a chance to participate.  To prepare my son, and to educate our whole family about the holiday, I (of course) sought out a few books from the library.  Here are a couple that we read:

Purim by Miriam Nerlove - This book tells the straight-forward Purim story as heard by a little boy from his Rabbi.  For someone with  no background in the holiday, this was a good easy primer - the language was a bit jarring at times - and I had to modify it a bit for my two-year-olds.  But, given that the story itself is about killing and massacre, and the whole point is deliverance from this brutal truth, others may think that censoring the language detracts from part of the point.

It's Party Time! A Purim Story by Jonny Zucker - I love the colorful illustrations in this book which focuses more on how Purim is celebrated - with costumes, noise makers, and presents -  rather than the historical significance of the holiday.

When It's Purim by Edie Stoltz Zolkower - this cute little board book tells the rhyming story of animals baking hamentaschen to give as gifts.


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