לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׁוֹן וִיקַר
The Jews enjoyed light and gladness, happiness and honor (Esther 8:16)
This verse in Megillat Esther is the culmination of the story of Purim and includes four different words for the triumph of the Jewish people: light, gladness, joy, and honor. Four words to describe their state upon their salvation from Haman’s evil scheme. Why do the writers of the megillah use four words when only one word would be sufficient? Commentators ascribe different meanings to each of these terms, such as specific mitzvot that the Jewish community was able to reclaim with their newfound freedom from religious persecution. Another interpretation is that only all of these words together can properly describe the depth of the rejoicing among the people. Another perspective is that there are many kinds of happiness, each one a little different from others, and all types were present and welcome on that joyful day.
We have many reasons to increase our happiness this Purim as we pause and celebrate this week. We are grateful to commemorate the victory of courageous Jewish leaders so long ago. We are joyful that we have reached “hazman hazeh,” this time in our year, still together in our school building, learning side by side. We are happy for a reason to smile and bring smiles to the faces of those around us in the middle of a very difficult time for many people. We wish you a happy and festive Purim!
Can you find Persia on a map? Our students can!
Last Friday, the first-ever online JCDS Geography Bee took place on Zoom! Normally, the Geo Bee is a national competition run by National Geographic in which JCDS has participated for a number of years. However, when National Geographic announced it would not be running the competition this year, middle school humanities/social studies teacher Josh Mocle felt that this beloved JCDS tradition should continue and that the show must go on! Pulling together a bank of questions left over from past competitions, Josh created an original competition format that worked over Zoom and led to an exciting, occasionally nail-biting competition.
The student competitors from grades five to eight, cheered on by their classmates, teachers and parents, competed with grit, wit, perseverance, and confidence. Ultimately, it was seventh grader Yochanan Cramer who was crowned this year’s champion. Yochanan is the first student in JCDS history to achieve this win THREE YEARS IN A ROW and will receive a year-long subscription to National Geographic Magazine, courtesy of JCDS! Congratulations as well to our second- and third-place winners, Luke Kraus of fifth grade and Matan Lerner of eighth grade!
Shira Deener is head of school at JCDS.
The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.
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