Stories of Persian Heroines and Ready-to-Go Activities for Purim
Enjoy these simple, ready-to-go activities focused on Purim and its big themes.
For Youngest Learners
Movement and mindfulness
Try this activity about bravery - a Purim theme. Tell children to tilt their heads up and stand straight and tall. Or try making strong muscles in their arms. Invite children to make brave poses. Encourage them to notice where in their bodies they feel brave. (in my muscles; in my heart; my brain; my arms and legs) Suggest they try another pose and see if their brave feeling changes too. Have them create a pose that shows what bravery feels like in their body. (This activity comes from the Let’s Discover the Holidays series of 4-page folders.)
Raya is disappointed that her Purim costume isn’t ready. And to make things worse, she’s too young to perform in the school’s Purim play! But not to worry. Her grandmother, Mama Joon, remembers how she celebrated Purim back when she was a young girl in Hamdan, Iran, and she shares those traditions with Raya. Together, they find ways to make their American Purim beautiful, delicious and fun in A Persian Princess, by Barbara Diamond Goldin. This modern Purim story "rekindles the wondrous legacy of Persian Jewry," says Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
In Esther Didn't Dream of Being Queen, Esther would rather dig in her garden and spend time with her cousin Mordechai than live in the big, cold palace. So when then king chooses her as queen, her new life is far from a dream come true. And when danger comes, there is no fairy godmother to help out. Will she have the courage to stand up for what's right? "A well-told Bible story of a strong, determined, persistent woman that will resonate with modern young readers," declared Kirkus Reviews.
In Queen Vashti's Comfy Pants, why did Queen Vashti, the other Purim royal, refuse to obey her king's commands? Although the traditional biblical text gives us no real clue, this story humorously imagines what it might have been like for a Queen to stand up for herself against a string of high-handed demands. In doing so, it demonstrates to children the value of understanding the worth of their own needs and desires. "A feminist spin on a biblical event . . . A well-crafted revision sure to spark discussion." - Kirkus Reviews
For Elementary and Up
Lesson on tzedakah and giving
Purim gives us a chance to explore the value of tzedakah and giving. Why do people give to others? How do the story and themes of Purim encourage us to give to others - both to friends and to those in need?
Here's a free downloadable lesson from Jewish Holidays, Jewish Values that explores these questions. Purim invites students to consider the mitzvah of giving and reflect on concepts of justice and morality. What have your students done that has been difficult? How did it feel afterwards? If one of your students saw unfairness in the world, how would they act? Who would they ask if they were unsure? Intended for older students, this offers great opportunities for students to look at current events and think critically about the decisions they would make, have made, and their feelings concerning both. Easily adaptable for remote or small-group learning.
For Middle Grade and Up
Lesson on anti-semitism and courage
Abby Mudd walked nervously to the front of the class, her heart beating so fast and loud that it felt as if the other students could hear it pounding in her chest. The Massachusetts tenth-grader feared speaking out, but after seven months of enduring antisemitic slurs, she knew she couldn't stay silent. Abby took a deep breath. "I never understood how difficult it could be to be a minority until I came to school here," Abby said, addressing a group of 11th and 12th graders.
From day one at her new school, Abby witnessed racism and antisemitism. Swastikas were etched on desks and in textbooks; students made racist remarks openly in class; and some of her classmates even participated in a neo-Nazi group. "What they were doing was so humanly wrong that it made me sick to my stomach," says Abby. Rather than leave the school, Abby courageously returned each day, even challenging classmates when they made racist insults.
This true story forms the basis of the downloadable teacher resource Abby Mudd: Standing Up to Anti-Semitism. Complete with a full lesson plan, source sheet, student worksheet, and optional Hebrew article, students can compare Abby Mudd's heroism to the model of courage exemplified by Queen Esther. Students will consider what each young woman had to gain and lose by taking a stand. Students will also practice speaking up against acts of racism and antisemitism.
A fun challenge
Chag Purim Sameach!
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