Purim Primer: Some quick facts about the Festival of Lots

Purim is a minor festival telling the story of the saving of the Jews from possible annihilation in the Persian Empire, 473 B.C.E. The Persian King Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, has a prime minister named Haman. Haman is angry because one particular Jew named Mordechai refuses to bow down before him, giving him the respect of royalty.

Haman’s response to this is to order the killing of all the Jews. Queen Esther, Mordechai’s younger cousin, asks Ahasuerus to reverse Haman’s order. He complies, and instead has Haman and his 10 sons hanged. [Read more…]

Self-Invented Character Groggers

(Ages 3 to 10)

Materials Needed

  • Empty (clean and dry) plastic milk or juice container with handle (quart or half-gallon), save the lid too!
  • White glue, scissors
  • Beans, marbles, tic-tacs, candies (anything that makes lots of noise when shaken in an empty container)
  • Multi-colored felt pieces, construction paper, tissue paper, wallpaper samples, etc.

[Read more…]

Designer Mishloach Manot

(Ages 12-16 years)

Materials Needed:

  • Colorful pasteboard
  • Assorted wrapping paper
  • Ribbon
  • Self-adhesive stickers
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper for inner wrap
  • Actual gifts for inside (at least two different foods)

[Read more…]

More Information

Purim: Persian word for lots or lottery.

Megillah Esther: Means scroll of Esther, telling the story of Purim in great detail. It is read on Purim night and again the following morning.

Purim dates: Ta’anit (fast) of Esther on 13 Adar. That evening the story of Purim is read from the Megillah. It is then read again on the morning of the 14th of Adar. Many families have festive Purim meals the afternoon of the 14th of Adar. The 15th of Adar, which is today, is also known as Shushan Purim. Shushan was the capital of Persia, the place where the Purim story takes place. The people who lived in this walled city and other walled cities traditionally celebrate Purim on this day.
[Read more…]

Shalach Manot—Delicious Purim Treats

Purim has always been one of my favorite holidays. The story of Queen Esther appeals to my sense of justice, when evil is dealt a mortal blow and things turn out happily after all.

Of course, my sense of taste is also fulfilled when making Purim specialties. Hamantashen is the most popular food associated with Purim. Most often filled with poppy seeds, jam or cheese, you can use your creativity for other fillings.
[Read more…]

Purim Resource List

Together: A Child-Parent Kit: Purim

Bou Nahser b’Purim – Book and Cassette

Sammy Spider’s First Purim – Rouss, Sylvia

VIDEO Ha Ra’Ashan (The Grogger) in Hebrew

VIDEO Queen Esther (From the Great Adventure series)

List of Jewish Holiday Resources Available at the Aaron H. Leibtag Resource Center of the Center for Jewish Education
5800 Park Heights Avenue
(410) 578-6943

Chanukah Heros And Villains

Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi said, “Women are obligated to light the Hanukah menorah for they took part in the miracle.” (Shabbat 23a)

Two heroines emerge from the Hanukah story that often get lost in the heroic tales of the Maccabees.

Their names were Judith and Hannah and they also symbolizes the victory of the Jews over the Greeks.
[Read more…]

Colorful Candles

NOTE: This is a project for older children only (or adults, if they are mature enough and don’t whine a lot).

You Will Need:

  • Holidays one box of white Chanukah candles
  • several boxes of different-colored Chanukah candles
  • deep throwaway tins
  • wax paper
  • toothpicks (optional)
  • a great deal of patience

Begin by melting several different colors of candles. The best way to do this is to place a bunch of blue or red, for example, candles in a throwaway tin immersed in boiling water. It can take awhile for the wax to melt. When at last it’s done, dip bottoms of white candles in the melted wax to create a beautiful work of art. The more you dip the candle, the darker the color. When you’re done, place on wax paper to dry. You can add several colors to each candle, providing the most-recently dipped color has completely dried. When you’re done, and before the last wax hardens completely, you can use a toothpick to carve a design into your new candle for the menorah.

In Search Of The Perfect Latke

For some, this is a very sensitive issue. Latkes must have onions, or they simply are not latkes. For others, the mere thought of onion-laden latkes (when everyone knows latkes are meantto be topped with sugar), is nothing less than bone-chilling. Let’s get cooking.
[Read more…]

Make your own Chanukah greeting cards

Instead of going to the store and buying the same, old familiar Chanukah cards to send to friends, here’s a great one to make yourself.

You Will Need:

  • family photographs that can be cut
  • scissors
  • crayons, markers or colored pencils
  • access to a photocopy machine (preferably one that makes color copies)

Begin by asking the most artistic member of your family to draw a menorah. Remember, this does not have to resemble a Rembrandt; it just has to be recognizable as a menorah. Although the end product can be reduced to almost any size, you want to work on a fairly large sheet of paper, no smaller than 8-1/2 x 11. Your menorah should include all the candles, but omit the flames and instead, decorate with family photos, one face per candle. If you have less than the required number of people in your family, just fill in the extras with appropriate drawings, such as a Star of David or dreidel. After you have completed your wonderful project, photocopy and decorate. You can really have fun with this; try all kinds of different materials around the house. Consider attaching pieces of foil to the menorah, or use crumpled-up tissue paper to make a latke on the side.