Purim

5 Ways to Make Purim More Inclusive

Purim celebrations, by their definition, are festive and spirited events. Between the graggers, the shpiels, and the carnivals (most often held in echoey social halls), Purim is nothing if not loud and boisterous. Unfortunately, the onslaught of sights and sounds can be overwhelming for even typically developing children and their parents. This goes double for a family who has a child with sensory sensitivities. Often, those families will stay away from Purim celebrations out of fear that their child will become overwhelmed and have a full-on meltdown in front of everyone in the synagogue.  

Fortunately, there are several easy things you can do to make Purim more accessible to every child and every family. Many are budget-neutral (or at least budget-low-impact) and all are relatively uncomplicated to make happen. Check out the list below, pick a few to try this year, and see what a difference it makes.

  1. Create a quiet space. More than anything else, the existence of a quiet space for kids (or adults) who are feeling overwhelmed will transform your Purim celebration. If you do just this, many families who would otherwise never consider coming will do so. All you need is a room nearby (but far enough to dilute some of the noise from the celebration) with a door that closes, stocked with a few pillows, blankets, art projects, sensory materials like beans and playdoh, or anything else you think your community might enjoy.

  2. Make headphones available during the shpiel (or throughout the day). Having a few sets of noise-reducing headphones available for kids (or adults) who get overwhelmed by too much noise will go a long way towards making folks feel welcome. We like the $12 ones here.

  3. Create a social story.  Social stories are simple illustrated booklets that tell kids what to expect at a Purim celebration. They are not meant to change the child’s behavior, but rather to help them understand events and the expectations and challenges associated with them. Click the links for great examples from Matan and Gateways.

  4. Offer gluten- and dairy-free hamantaschen.  Nothing says “Purim” quite like hamantaschen. Unfortunately, many kids (and adults) have dietary restrictions--gluten- and casein-free (i.e., dairy-free) diets are especially common--which don’t allow them to eat standard hamantaschen. You can make gluten and casein-free hamantaschen  following recipes like this one or purchase them commercially at places like Mariposa Baking Company or even Amazon.

  5. Tell the community that you are doing these things. All of your great work on inclusion will only succeed if people know you are doing it! Advertise the accommodations you are making explicitly on publicity associated with your Purim event: in email blasts, on flyers, in newsletters, on signage the day of the event, and beyond.

Chag sameach!

Purim 2017: Moral Dilemmas | Lesson for Teens

This Purim, we've created activities, guiding questions and "moral dilemmas" scenarios to serve as a touchpoint for conversations with your teenage students. 

The Purim story offers many opportunities to connect with teenagers around themes occurring in their own lives -  passion, jealousy, fear of the other, love, relationships and responsibility.

Reading and exploring excerpts from the Megillah brings up a number of questions including:

• How and why are women judged? 

• When is the right time to “come out”, to stand up for what you believe in and to advocate for others?

• What responsibility do you share for the collective?

We hope the activities, guiding questions and “moral dilemmas” scenarios spark meaningful conversations with your students.

With questions or for support in creating more ideas please don’t hesitate to contact us:  Ivitemberg@jewishlearningworks.org or 415-751 6983 ext 149

 

Suggested activities:

1.    Divide teens into groups.  Assign each group one of the moral dilemmas below and ask them to create a short presentation on its relevance to them

2.    Ask the teens to role play a scene wherein the protagonist must decide between two opposing courses of action.  Charge the teens with acting out the protagonist’s thoughts

3.    Ask the teens to create a scene without an ending.  Offer the audience the opportunity to weigh in on how the tale should end

  

 

Moral Dilemmas:  

 

Scenario 1 Coming Out

Esther Finds Favor
…9. Now the young lady pleased him and found favor with him. So he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and food, gave her seven choice maids from the king's palace and transferred her and her maids to the best place in the harem. 10. Esther did not make known her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make them known. 11. Every day Mordecai walked back and forth in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and how she fared.…                                        New American Standard Bible

 Discussion questions:

• Under what circumstances is it important to stand up and assert who you are?

• How can real change occur without taking steps that hurt someone’s feelings?

• When might ensuring your physical and emotional safety be more important than standing up for something you believe in?

Scenarios:

Gil and Evan are a gay couple who have been together for nine years.  After years of struggle, they are finally legally married.  They are going to visit Evan’s elderly mother (he is her youngest!). She lives in an assisted-living, tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone. Even though she knows that Gil and Evan are married, she introduces them to her friends as “my son Evan and his friend Gil. “

How would this situation be different if: it took place in an Orthodox shul in the Midwest, where Gil’s brother plays a prominent role as a community rabbi?

How would this situation be different if: it took place in rural Pennsylvania and Gil’s brother were afraid that if the true nature of the relationship between his brother to his husband were known, they might be physically hurt?

 

 

 

Scenario 2 Mutual Responsibility

 

…12. They related Esther's words to Mordecai. 13. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. 14. "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"…New American Standard Bible

Discussion questions:

• Does what happens to others of your religion, ethnicity or culture always impact you? 

 In what ways are you responsible to your people?

Scenarios:

David is very excited to be admitted to the college of his choice.  He is especially excited to get involved in rowing crew and in political environmental causes.  Soon after his arrival at school he is asked to participate in Hillel activities relating to recent expressions of anti-Semitism on campus.  David considers the invitation but between school, crew and advocating for endangered species he is uncertain he has time.  

How would this situation be different if: David were a senior who was very popular and held a position in student government?

How would this situation be different if: Speaking out against anti-Semitism might put David at risk of losing friends or being physically targeted on campus

 

 

Scenario 3 Beauty and Power

 

12. Now when the turn of each young lady came to go in to King Ahasuerus, after the end of her twelve months under the regulations for the women-- for the days of their beautification were completed as follows: six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and the cosmetics for women-- 13. the young lady would go in to the king in this way: anything that she desired was given her to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. 14. In the evening she would go in and in the morning she would return to the second harem, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not again go in to the king unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.…

Discussion questions:

• Under what circumstances should women use beauty to access power?

• What tools might be effective for women to oppose a male dominated system or culture?

Scenarios:

Sophie is smart, and accomplished young woman.  She is frequently told by her peers that she could be a Hollywood star.  Sophie has always wanted to be a writing and hears of an opening at a publishing firm that she is interested in. A peer at the firm has shared that her interviewer has a “weakness for pretty women who wear revealing clothes.” Sophie is tempted to play up her looks for the interview.

OR

Josh is staffing a leadership program for teens.  Some of the girls wear clothes that he feels are designed to make them appear sexy.   Josh believes these girls may not understand the impact of their clothing choices.  When he tries to talk to the girls about wearing other clothes out of respect for themselves and their bodies, they tell him that he is being sexist and accuse him of trying to limit their sexual expression.

Educational Resources for Purim

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!

Vavi Toran

 

Purim Resources
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.  

Comix

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! 

To See the Rest of the Deck: click here. and here.
 

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.

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   An artist stands amid effigies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

An artist stands amid effigies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

 "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.

We hope these images, Piven's website, his TedX Jerusalem talk, and this app for face making will inspire fun Purim activities.

 

 

 

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

Articles

Anti-Semitism on rise across Europe 'in worst times since the Nazis' - The Guardian
Jewish leaders call for Europe-wide legislation outlawing anti-Semitism - The Guardian

Purim and Art

Arthur Szyk -   Haman hanging on the gallows, 1950

Arthur Szyk - Haman hanging on the gallows, 1950

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.

We are happy to share with you the lesson outlinetext study,  guidelines for Havruta study, and a few examples of the artwork done as tunnel books

 

One Experience at the Sensory Friendly Purim Carnival

Read what one parent had to say about her son's experience at a Purim Carnival and the impact INCLUDE made:

I would like to thank you so much for making the sensory friendly Purim Carnival.  That wing was a life-saver. It was our first time at that Purim Carnival and I did not realize how intense the main rooms were.  They were very crowded, very loud, the lines were long and the children were very excited.  It was actually overwhelming to me--there is no way we could have had a successful experience without the sensory friendly wing.

Thanks again,

Rachel