Shalom all and Happy Adar!
I am doing some Spring cleaning ahead of Passover. This is not your usual inspection for the evasive chametz nor is it just to get rid of tchotchkes and other accumulating junk. It is a web-based Spring cleaning. Jewish LearningWorks is retiring its old web pages and I was told that if I want to capture anything I have done for the past few years that lives on the web, I better take a look right away or else it will be gone forever. Oy!… Unlike the junk in my house, I have a real relationship with some of the stuff I have written, plagiarized or curated. So, I went straight to work and salvaged the Israel Education Initiative Newsletters from the past 3 years. And just in time for Purim, what follows below is a compilation of resources for the holiday. It was in a virtual attic, but dusted off it will shine like new.
Enjoy and Happy Purim!
A Collection from Past IEI Newsletters
By Vavi Toran
Let's start with some fun stuff!
The story of Purim has been told throughout the centuries in many ways. From Purim Spiels to a variety of visual versions of the Megillah, writers and artists utilized their creativity to interpret the story according to their imagination and the zeitgeist of their era.
A delightful comic book version of the Scroll of Esther was published a few years ago by the CET (The Center for Educational Technology) in Israel. The booklet is easy to follow and, besides the story itself, includes background and ideas for activities and discussion. It is in Hebrew. But hey, it's Purim and you know the story. Improvise!
Download Megillat Esther Comic Book (Available for sale from CET)
Artistic Playing Cards
Jacob's Bible Playing Cards designed by Ze'ev Raban, a leading artist of the Bazalel Academy founded in 1906, featuring King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther among many other biblical royals. In this deck, the jack of club is Harbona, one of the seven eunuchs who served Ahasuerus and to whom the order was given to bring Queen Vashti before the king. Now let's play!
Music and Videos
For young viewers, The Purim Story from Shalom Sesame.
From G-dcast, The Purim Story for Kids and Other Double Dutch Jumping Hipsters.
Purim songs with Uzi Hitman and Hani Nahmias.
Hebrew lyrics to the songs on Chagim website.
Some of the songs in English transliteration.
"When Adar enters, we increase joyfulness." Babylonian Talmud Ta'anit 29a
We are doubly joyful this year since we are celebrating two months of Adar, Adar Alef (First Adar) and Adar Bet (Second Adar). Why is this?
The year in the Jewish calendar consists of twelve lunar months, but the festivals follow the solar year, since several of them (Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot) must take place in certain seasons, and the seasons are determined by the earth annual revolution around the sun. The lunar calendar is regularly adjusted to keep it in conformity with the solar year. This is done by periodically adding a second month of Adar. Since the discrepancy between the solar and lunar years amounts to 207 days every 19 years, the extra Adar is added seven times in a 19-year lunar cycle. During these leap years, most observances normally held in Adar are moved to Adar Bet, including Purim.
Masquerading and Mask Making
One of the most joyful of the holiday's customs is Masquerading and Mask Making.
"Masquerading on Purim originated about the end of the fifteenth century among the Jews of Italy, who observed and imitated the carnival practice of the Lenten season, which occurs about the time of Purim. From there it spread to all countries where Jews lived. The first known reference to the wearing of masks on Purim is found in 1508. In masquerading, people did not always wear mask. The mask was probably a much later invention, as people became more sophisticated and felt ashamed of their burlesque dress and childish tricks their "characters" were supposed to perform. Thus, to avoid recognition by their neighbors and friends and to achieve greater freedom of joyful expression, they covered their faces with masks." (from The Purim Anthology by Philip Goodman,1973)
Israeli artist, Hanoch Piven depicts the Iranian (Persian) politician known for his anti-Israel propaganda and Holocaust denial, as a modern-day Haman. The connection to Purim is achieved by using Hamantachens, a dagger, a gragger and a whip.
Purim is a perfect opportunity to incorporate his teaching and technique to create portraits and masks for the holiday.
The Somber Side of the Holiday February 2015
We don't mean to spoil you rambunctious Purim spirit, but this year we cannot ignore the somber side of the holiday. Anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide and acts of terror, violence and desecration are on the news daily. A few years ago, we commented that there are no Jewish communities in peril. Now, thousands of European Jews are feeling vulnerable enough to seriously consider Aliyah.
Anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate are difficult issues to discuss with students. We want to foster pride. The story of Purim as told in the Scroll of Esther offers an opportunity to examine these issues.
To support your effort to introduce these topics, we offer resources:
Confronting Anti-Semitism - ADL
The Scroll of Esther and Anti-Semitism - by Prof. H. Gavriyahu, JAFI
Purim and the Persian Period - JewishHistory.org
Purim: Strangest of Holidays - By Steve Israel & Noam Zion, Shalom Hartman Institute
Purim: Joy in the Midst of Uncertainty - By Rabbi Prof. David Hartman, Shalom Hartman Institute
Purim Resources for Children with Special Needs - Gateways, Access to Jewish Education
Purim and Art
An Artist's View
In this version of the Esther story, Arthur Szyk portrayed himself as the interpreter of Jewish history. The artist gazes at the swastika-bedecked figure of Haman, hanging on the gallows that Haman had built to kill Mordechai. Szyk holds a hamentasch, the pastry traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim, while writing "the people of Israel will be liberated from their persecutors."
Identity in the Story of Purim - An Art Project
Earlier this month we offered a workshop in collaboration with CJM, Havruta in Art and Beyond: Collaboration and Creativity in the Classroom. As an exercise of collaboration across disciplines in preparation of the upcoming holiday, we chose two verses from the book of Esther as text for Havruta study. Participants engaged in text study, identified a "big idea" for Purim and translated it into a collaborative artwork. It was a small example of how to approach any Jewish theme that we revisit year after year, and how to interpret big (and sometime old) ideas in a new creative way. The resulting list of big ideas and art ideas suggested that this year several schools will be engaged in an art activity that is very different than past years.