Friday, March 03, 2006

Purim is Coming!!

All I needed to know about being a Jewish parent I did not learn in Rabbinical School. You see, Rabbinical School was only five years and in my case, BC – Before Children. I learned much important and practical information. However, it is the ongoing journey of Jewish parenthood that has been the impetus for ritual creativity.

Take Purim. To some, our annual costumed festival might look like a Jewish Halloween. These two holidays could not be more different. Purim costumes are always for fun with no intention to scare others. Also, Purim is all about giving rather than getting. The focus is not on receiving candy. Rather, it is our custom to give Shalach manos (gifts of food) to friends and tzedakah to the needy.

As I have mentioned before, I’m not a lover of Halloween. I am, however, a huge fan of Purim. I love the costumes and the frivolity of this holiday. The raucous and bawdy behaviour that is forbidden in shul but this one time of year. Our family really gets into this holiday and talk of what we will be wearing to shul has been a favourite topic over the past few weeks.

And this sparked a moment of sudden creativity – to take an annual family picture in costume. By no means an original idea as I suspect many families do this around Halloween. However, why not take this opportunity to remind our kids that we have our own “dress-up” holiday? It is, what we professionals like to call, a teachable moment! When we parents make a very big deal about a particular practice or behaviour, we draw our children’s attention to it. Purim is a very big deal. Its silly nature veils the serious lesson of the day; that the world is a changeable and sometimes dangerous place for minorities, and that in order to survive, we have had to take risks and stick together. We look to Esther as a role model of a Jewish woman who is not only a beauty queen, but a real person who acts to save her people.

So it's time for a new Purim tradition. I dog-dare, double-dare you to make Purim a delightful celebration in the life of your family. Pull out those costumes, head over to the portrait studio, mug for the camera, and then head over to shul for the megillah reading. I promise – you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.

Be Happy, it’s Adar!!

1 comment:

Crys said...

I wanted to bring your niece up for Purim services this year, but I can't. Next year we will come up! I can't wait to see the pictures!