This year at ECDC we celebrated Purim in many traditional ways. We made crowns, graggers and hamentashen. We held our annual carnival where we had a different game in each room.
Weeks before the hamentashen, costumes and three-corner hats, ECDC Educators talked with Rabbi Locketz to think about the best ways to celebrate Purim with young children. We learned that the story of Purim comes from the Book of Esther in the Megillah and that there is no hard evidence that the events actually took place. Though the story includes wickedness and hatred, it has a happy ending – and Purim has evolved as a happy holiday enjoyed by children and adults alike.
The story of Purim, as edited for young children:
- Once upon a time in the lovely town of Shushan, there lived nice Uncle Mordecai and his niece Esther. (Uncle Mordecai and Esther were Jewish.)
- King Ahasuerus was the king of Shushan. He chose Esther as his wife, because she was kind and smart.
- Haman worked in the palace, and he was NOT a nice man. He made people bow down to him.
- Uncle Mordecai would not bow down to Haman. The Jewish people would not bow down to Haman.
- Haman wanted to send away the people who would not bow down to him.
- The Jewish people were sad, because they wanted to live in the lovely town of Shushan.
- Mordecai asked Esther to help her people. Queen Esther had to be very brave.
- Queen Esther told her husband, King Ahasuerus: I am Jewish and Haman wants to send the Jewish people away.
- The king was angry and asked his guards to send Haman away instead.
- Uncle Mordecai came to work in the palace and the people lived happily in the lovely town of Shushan.
The children embrace the characters of the story. They love the Purim songs that inspire twirling to the name of Queen Esther and booing to the name of Haman. Intuitively they rejoice in the goodness of Esther and deplore the nastiness of Haman. Though the story is told in a lighthearted manner, they learn about Esther’s bravery and the importance of doing the right thing.
This year I noticed the delight of the children as they pranced in their costumes – turtles, carrots, batmen, chefs, police officers and yes many princesses. I took special delight to hear one of our older children announce: I am not Jewish, but I love Purim!