Purim is a holiday marked by joyous activities. We dress up in our favorite costumes, share gifts of food with friends, give charity to those in need, have a festive meal with family and friends, and read a story (PJ Library’s favorite activity) – specifically, the story of Queen Esther – together.
The story behind Purim isn’t exactly family-friendly though; some not-so-friendly highlights (more like lowlights) include Queen Vashti (Queen Esther’s predecessor) being humiliated by her husband, a murder plot against the king, the evil Haman conspiring to wipe out the entire Jewish people, and the Jews taking revenge by hanging Haman and all of his sons. Yikes.
So how then, on a holiday otherwise perfectly suited to kids, do we share the story of Purim? Here are a few ideas:
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
Feel free to summarize the story of Purim, especially for younger children. On Purim we celebrate the bravery of Queen Esther, a very smart Jewish woman who was married to a king, Ahashverosh. When Esther learned that Haman, who worked for the king, was plotting against the Jews, she summoned the courage to tell the king about Haman's evil plan and saved her people.
FOCUS ON THE VALUES
The Purim story helps kids learn about courage, bravery, and standing up for what's right. Your kids can grasp the themes of the story, without knowing the gory details. Here are some questions to kickstart conversations:
- Who is a hero?
- What does it mean to be brave?
- When was a time that you felt brave?
WATCH A VIDEO
There are some fantastic videos online that capture the Purim story in a way that kids can digest. The video above is great for younger kids. Older children, and grownups, will get a kick out of this take on the story from BimBam. You can also see Shalom Sesame's full Purim playlist at this link.
MAKE YOUR OWN KID-FRIENDLY MEGILLAH
Children's author Sylvia Rouss has a fantastic amended version of the Purim story available on her website. You can print it out and make your own version of the megillah, the story of Esther, for your kids to unroll and read on Purim. Here is the link to her version.
Teaching Toddlers About Haman via Forward
The Purim Story For Small Children via Joyful Jewish
Find books about Purim here.
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February 14, 2017