Purim is just around the corner! Our 3-7th grade students are currently studying the core Jewish value of Hakarat Hatov, seeking joy and being grateful.
Hakarat Hatov is the quintessential Jewish value; as the name of Yehuda (Judah), is rooted in hodah – to give thanks. It is the essence of a meaningful Jewish experience. While one may have all the blessings of goodness (good health, wonderful family, and friends to name a few), without gratitude, one’s journey through life can’t capture the full meaning of appreciation. Giving thanks and finding ways to conveying gratitude is a profound key to happiness.
I am so grateful to be part of the transformation and growth of Jewish education here at ShalomLearning. We have the distinct joy of working on innovative projects, and kvelling over some recent successes. Working with Bible Raps, we are empowering our students to create their own original Jewish values rap songs at Temple Shalom in Succasunna, NJ, Temple Chaverim in Plainview, NY, and Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, PA. We have plans to continue this program in the fall at other partner synagogues.
We are also pumped from the success of our first virtual escape room game. I’d like to give a big shout out to Ben, our eight-year old winner, from California, who shares his experience in this interview with Heidi Lovitz, our Director of Educational Programming
To prepare for the fall, we’re currently putting the final touches on the new and updated curriculum. We’re also announcing the six locations for in-person summer training opportunities for our ShalomLearning educators. I look forward to seeing many of you at one of these sites or one of the training webinars.
May your hunger for Jewish Learning continue to grow, and my prayer for us all is to continue cultivating an attitude of gratitude- hakarat hatov!
The holiday of Purim begins at sundown on Wednesday February, 28th. Although the kids always look forward to the carnivals held in many communities, there are lots of fun ways for the whole family to observe the holiday.
If you have ever wondered why it is customary to dress up in costume, Chabad has some answers for you. It is also traditional to send baskets of goodies called Mishloach Manot. And if you are ready to try making your own hamantaschen, here is a simple recipe from Bon Appetit.
And in this age of #MeToo, maybe it is time to give the character of Vashti a rethink.
However you celebrate, we wish you a Chag Purim Sameach, Happy Purim.
The holiday of Purim begins this Saturday, March 11, at sundown. If observance of this holiday is new to you, or if you are just looking for some new ways to celebrate, here are some suggestions:
An overview of the holiday from MyJewishlearning.
A Hametashen recipe from Bon Appetit.
If you can’t get to synagogue to hear the Whole Megillah, you can listen here.
Or, perhaps you would prefer an English translation.
It is customary to have a festive meal or seudah on Purim, here are some ideas from Joy of Kosher. (The Hamentashen Challah sounds particularly mouthwatering!)
And if you didn’t get a chance to read it, here is what our own Rabbi in Residence Dani Eskow had to say about how Purim fits in to our ShalomLearning curriculum.
Chag Purim Sameach from the ShalomLearning team!
It is time for one of our children’s favorite holidays: Purim! Why, you might ask? Similar to Chanukah, kids love a fun holiday that includes eating fun foods, dressing up, and more. Purim seems more similar to other “American” holidays, such as Halloween. While it is customary for us to dress up and celebrate that our people survived at the hand of evil Haman, Purim could not be any more different than Halloween. So do not worry, you do not have to hang up your Haman hat or Achashverosh crown, but let’s take a closer look at this holiday that we have all come to love so that when we do dress up and eat those delish hamenstaschen cookies, we infuse it with a deeper meaning!
Purim is a holiday that took place in a place called Shushan. Long story made short, the king was looking for a new queen and a young Jewish woman named Esther entered the competition (under the nudging of her uncle Moredchai) and by becoming queen actually ended up saving the Jewish people from the evil decree of Haman (the king’s right hand man). It is a true Jewish underdog story: the world was out to get us, we persevered and did not shy away from our Judaism and tradition, and as a result we survived! This is why we celebrate, dress up, and of course, eat a lot of hamentaschen cookies!
What is the deeper message of Purim that we can share with our children and families? The Purim story teaches us to be proud of who we are as Jewish people and not to shy away from our Jewish identities when the going gets tough. The story is infused with the values that we learn together with your students each week: betzelem Elohim and gevurah to name a few! Had Haman viewed each and every person as created betzelem Elohim perhaps the whole drama could have been avoided! Esther and Mordechai demonstrated great acts of gevurah-standing up against the king and his evil sidekick and in turn saved the Jewish people!
The takeaway message is this: We will face situations in our lives where our gevurah will be tested. What will we do in the face of adversity? How will our children act if they one day face anti-semitism? The characters of the Purim story teach us that each and every one of us can be a gibor a hero. Each of us has the power to stand up for ourselves and for others: our family, our friends, our community, our people. The true message of Purim is that each of us has the power to create incredible change in the world. While we may dress up this Purim and mask our faces in favor of another-we can also work to strengthen our true Jewish identities and in turn, ensure that a threat like the one in the Purim story-can never come to be again.
Wishing you and your families a Happy Purim!