The last email we sent out got me thinking… I never really realized that Purim has always been one of my favorite Jewish holidays and my relationship with the holiday has changed over the years.
As with most Jewish holidays, there is so much tradition and really fun tradition that goes along with Purim I have so many fond memories from my childhood (yes, I went to Jewish day school!) of dressing up, songs about clowns, the heroes Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, booing Haman with a grogger, art projects, getting mishloach manot full of one of my all time favorite desserts… hamantashen!
As I got a little older I found different ways to connect to the Purim story, I was in a play called the Purim Speil where I played a “Shushan girl”, I participated in a Megillah reading and to this day I still know my little 3 line part and I really started to understand what it meant that one evil person wanted to wipe out all the Jews. Haman was the first villain I really learned about although I don’t know if I really understood that something like this could occur in the world I live in.
Then came the teenage years when holidays don’t seem cool anymore and dressing up is for little kids and you don’t really want to be dragged to a Megillah reading even though you know it will be fun. And then when you get closer to drinking age and you realize that all the synagogues have tons of alcohol sitting out for everyone to enjoy, the prospect of going to party at shul starts to become a little more interesting!
College years were all about drinking at shul. But when I stopped to reflect on the holiday, it had a much stronger significance to me. College was the first time I was really living outside my Jewish bubble. A fully diverse university full of anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic propaganda. Close friends who had relatives that didn’t believe the Holocaust happened. A very different world in which the Purim story seemed less like a kid’s tale and more like reality.
And back home after college, the holiday became about indulging in my love of baking and finding the perfect hamtashen recipe (which can be found on this blog). And teaching my niece and nephews how to make them and setting up a hamntashen factory at my parent’s house and coming up with all kinds of fun fillings. Because what is a Jewish holiday without something absolutely delicious to eat and what easier way to connect to the holiday than by baking and eating yummy cookies?
And fast forward to now… with two of my own babies the first old enough to appreciate the holiday I suddenly find myself wanting to do EVERYTHING possible to share in her excitement and create even more. We are constantly singing and listening to Purim song medleys and planning out what costume she is going to wear on what day. I already stocked the pantry full of hamntashen ingredients and I’m thinking that our weekend project should consist of making tons of Michloach Manot. We are going to her school Purim party and 2 Megillah readings! Maybe it’s a little over the top but I can see how much she loves it and I want to foster it as much as possible.
Even though she doesn’t understand the significance of the Purim story now, its important to keep telling her the story and make sure she connects to it. Now more than ever, we see that Antisemitism is alive and well and that there really are people who want to kill us just for being Jewish. My hope for her is that she loves the holiday as much as I did and never has to encounter a Haman in her lifetime.