This weekend, Jewish families will celebrate Purim. The festive holiday celebrates the Jewish people’s deliverance from the evil Haman, royal visier to King Ahasuerus, who plotted to kill all of the Jews in the King’s empire. Careful and daring efforts by Queen Esther, Ahasuerus’ queen, and her adoptive father Mordecai thwarted Haman. Today, people celebrate Purim with food, drink, costumes, charitable giving, and dramatic performances of Esther’s triumph.
Whether your family generally celebrates Purim or not, here are some activities, books, and videos that explore the holiday for a broad audience. Does your family celebrate Purim? What are your traditions?
Shalom Sesame explores Purim in preschooler friendly videos and activities. Though families who are Jewish will enjoy these videos, they also speak well to viewers who are simply curious about Jewish traditions and holidays.
Before the festivities begin, make hamentaschen! The delicious triangle shaped cookies are usually filled with jam, chocolate, poppy seeds, or nuts. They are surprisingly simple to make, and it is easy to find recipes online.
During Purim celebrations, guests listen to the megillah, also known as the Book of Esther. It details the story, mentioned above, from which Purim originates. Whenever Haman’s name is read out loud, it is customary to blot out his name with noisemakers and foot stomping. There are plenty of instructions online for making your own noisemakers. For a geeky twist, you can even make yours out of LEGOs.
Charitable giving is a central part of Purim, too. Here are some ideas for unique ways to give that won’t stretch your budget.
Costumes are a fun part of Purim celebrations, and many children dress up just as they would for Halloween. Explore these explanations for how costumes became a part of Purim celebrations, and see some Purim costume examples in this video from Shalom Sesame.
You can learn more about Purim and other Jewish holidays from Malka Drucker’s Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays, which includes a Purim play. Another book, Raisel’s Riddle, features a different sort of Purim story. It is a Cinderella tale, in which the main character Raisel attends a Purim play at which she wins the heart of a rabbi’s son with her clever riddle.