The Meaning of Purim: A Guide to Joy – Jewish Life at Beber
Who doesn’t love a scary and suspenseful story that has a happy ending, especially when it’s real? The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people from the evil plot of Haman, who aimed to destroy them. This true story, documented in the Book of Esther in the Bible, is a perfect example of the Jewish people’s mantra: “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!” However, it also contains valuable lessons in Manhigut (leadership) and Ometz Lev (courage), two core values we instill in our Beber Campers.
Queen Vashti, the first character introduced in the story, displayed remarkable courage and leadership when she refused to follow the King’s orders, which she found degrading. She modeled standing up for herself, even at great personal risk, and became a leader for all women. Mordecai, a strong leader, inspired Queen Esther to have courage and become a strong leader herself. They both had the courage to take personal risks to establish themselves as leaders of the Jewish people. Even King Ahasveurus displayed strong leadership when he listened to his Queen and took action against his evil advisor.
These qualities are precisely what we aim to develop in our campers. We want them to develop the courage to take risks and lead in ways that can change the world. Who knows when they will be called upon to display leadership and courage?
Purim offers four mitzvot (commandments) that can help make the holiday meaningful for families:
- Listening to the Megillah, the story of Purim, in which children are encouraged to participate by being loud. Going to synagogue (or attending a virtual service) on Monday evening or during the day on Tuesday to hear the Megillah is a great way to celebrate.
- Participating in a festive meal (Seudah) where you eat, drink, and be merry. You can learn more about this meal here.
- Giving to the poor (Matanot L’evyonim). Giving directly to the poor ensures everyone can celebrate the holiday and honors Esther and Mordechai’s legacy of saving the Jewish people.
- Exchanging gifts (Mishloach Manot), which should have two different edible items, is a super easy and fun way to make someone happy and spread joy.
Aside from these mitzvot, there are other ways to increase joy on Purim.
- Making Hamantaschen is a fun and delicious activity, and you can share them with others by putting them in your Mishloach Manot. Try out any of these recipes.
- Have a family discussion about the Beber core values found in the story of Purim. Can you find all five values in the story?
- Choose a character from the Purim story and discuss what that character means to you personally.
- Finally, and THIS IS YOUR WAY TO BECOME FAMOUS AT BEBER CAMP…dressing up and creating your own Purim Shpiel (skit) is a fun and entertaining way to celebrate the holiday. If you send us a video of your Shpiel, we’ll post it on our social media! What a fun way to share the joy of Purim with our Beber family! Need some ideas? Check out these Top 10 Purim Shpiels.
We wish you all a Happy Purim! Chag Purim Sameach!