I remember little from my religious school days. I was a Sunday school dropout at age 12. But Purim, ah, Purim. My fondest memories of Sunday school – of the things I actually remember – involve Purim. It’s a holiday I found easy to love as a child and now, as a mother of a 3-year-old. Why? Read on.
Here are my top 10 reasons for my infatuation with Purim:
- Purim carnivals. As a child, I loved trying to win prizes, no matter how cheesy, no matter how easily the plastic doodads broke days later. As a Mom, I get a kick out of watching my toddler try to bowl, catch ducks, and throw balls into a basket. At this point, he doesn’t know a prize is waiting.
- Noise, noise, and more noise. It’s one of those few opportunities in life where it’s okay to shout and make as much noise as you can. Of course, other than Purim, we rarely hear the name, Haman.
- The groggers. Okay, they are a part of the noise, but they deserve a separate mention. What child doesn’t like to shake a rattling toy as loud as possible? My son now revels in his homemade grogger he made in his weekly preschool Judaism class.
- Dress up. I fell in love with this part more as an adult when I performed in Purim spiels, those spoofs of the real Purim story. Now, I enjoy watching the Purim parade at our temple. This year, I’ll actually remember to put our son in costume. Here’s hoping a cow is okay. He wore a cow costume for Halloween. He can be a cow for Purim, right?
- Esther. She was my heroine in childhood, a Jewish woman who was brave enough to declare her identity in unfriendly territory.
- The Purim story. It’s fairly easy for a child to understand. Good v. evil. There’s a king, a queen, a kind uncle, and an evil aide to the king.
- Goofiness. A few years ago, I watched my husband act in a Purim spiel. He dressed in drag as he sang something to the king.
- The spelling challenge. I still can’t spell the name of King Ahasaurus? Oh, heck, why not just call him, King Achoo? And I long ago gave up on spelling hamantaschen.
- The holiday treat. Speaking of the hamantaschen – that treat shaped as evil Haman’s hat, what’s not to like other than the missing ingredient? Chocolate. It does at least have sugar and a fruity filling.
- Fun. Fun. Fun. Purim, unlike many Jewish holidays, has a happy ending. The Jews lived happily after. We play, we eat, we tell stories, we sing, we boo, we cheer, we drink, we party, and we laugh.