Be Happy! It's Adar!

When was the last time you wore a costume and made lots of noise in the synagogue? Are you up for fun activities like a carnival, a puppet show or a parade? On Purim, we are commanded to be joyous and have fun while we are celebrating Queen Esther and how she saved the Jewish people from the hands of Haman. On February 25th, we begin the Hebrew month of Adar. Adar is a month of happiness and celebration, as we celebrate the holiday of Purim. Purim, which literally means "lots," commemorates the victory of the Jews over the tyranny of King Ahashverosh in the province of Shushan in the land of Persia. King Ahashverosh, influenced by his minister, Haman, was plotting to overthrow the Jewish people and picked "lots" to determine which day it would happen. However, Ahashverosh's wife, Queen Esther, hears of the plot from her cousin Mordechai, who works in the palace. She declares her Jewish identity to the King and pleads with him to save the Jewish people. So the punishment went to Haman rather than the Jewish people. There are four commandments associated with Purim. They are:

  • To listen to the Book of Esther, the "Megillah"
  • To give portions of gifts, "mishloach manot," to our friends and family
  • To give tzedakkah (literally "righteousness") or money/goods to those in need
  • To have a festive meal, a "seudah," on Purim afternoon

Purim is great fun for young children. They are given a green light for making noise with their gragger (noisemaker), wearing costumes and enjoying the topsy-turvy atmosphere of Purim. At the same time, we teach children the importance of helping others through giving tzeddakah and mishloach manot to our friends. Purim falls on a full moon, the 14th of Adar, which is sundown on March 9th this year. Our community is rich with opportunities for families with young children to celebrate on Purim:

  • Call your local synagogue and find out when the megillah reading is. Dress up in a costume (yes, you), and dress your children in a costume of their choice to join in on the festivities
  • Seek out a worthwhile cause for donating money
  • Have an after-school Purim feast on Tuesday afternoon that has a regal quality
  • Make mishloach manot to distribute. Here is a hint: make hamentaschen cookies, add fruit and other treats. Put them in a decorated container and deliver them to your friends- it's like reverse Halloween!

Sometimes our lives are so challenging that we really need a commandment "to be happy." Fun has fallen out of favor for some of us so let's bring it back! Purim Sameach! Happy Purim from the staff of the Early Childhood Education Initiative!


February 17, 2009


The Federation