Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Purim Today

There are those who believe the story related in Megillat Esther happened as described.
Others believe the story is fantasy.
I think it doesn't really matter who is right.
According to The Jewish Study Bible
...The setting of the Persian court is authentic, but the events are fictional. 
It goes on to say
The book does have a serious side, and an important function as a Diaspora story, a story written about and for (and perhaps by) Jews of the Diaspora.  As such, it promotes Jewish identity, solidarity within the Jewish community, and a strong connection with Jewish (biblical) tradition.
It addresses the inherent problems of a minority people, their vulnerability to political forces and government edicts, their lack of autonomy, and their dependence on royal favor and on the sagacity of their own leaders.
The book succeeds in putting a serious message in a comic form. 
So what might that mean for our students?

Big Ideas: 

  • As Jews we are part of a group with at least some shared experiences
  • As members of a group we have responsibilities to the other members of the group
  • Appearances do not always reflect reality
Important Questions to Ask and Answer:
  • What groups are you part of?
  • What threats exist to those groups?
  • What are our responsibilities toward the other members of these groups?
Learning Activities:
  • Reading Megillat Esther in language the learners can understand should be a core part of the learning activities
  • Brainstorm the different groups students are part of and the threats facing each.  Threats can be physical, but need not be.  For example, disappearance of the group can be a threat.
  • Discuss ways to address these threats (or challenges, if you prefer)
  • Prepare an action plan to address challenges that have been identified

NOTE:  Linking to popular culture is a wonderful way to engage learners
  • In the movie Avatar, what group(s) does Jake belong to?
  • Which of these groups is threatened?
  • How does Jake decide which group to support?
  • How was his choice personally threatening?
  • Compare and contrast Jake (in Avatar) and Esther (in the Purim story)
  • What Jewish values are expressed in the movie?


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