Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Day For Celebrating Purim

This week in homeschool we read the story of Esther. Purim is the annual Jewish festival celebrating Esther's bold faith and the subsequent deliverance of the Jewish people from destruction. I thought it would be fun to research Purim and plan our own little celebration, so I was completely amazed when I found out the actual holiday was this week!! God's timing is so funny, and I obviously felt great confirmation that He affirmed our plan for this study! :)

The first step in celebrating Purim is a reading of the Megillat Esther (the scroll of Esther). Yesterday was bitter cold with pounding rain, so we shared a pile of warm blankets and dove into a retelling of the whole story. In Jewish tradition, the children dress up and act out the story. Adults in the audience are given noisemakers, and they cheer and boo for the "good" and "evil" characters. We didn't dress up, but we added lots of drama to the story and had a good time with it. We talked about where God has us right now, and ways that we can step out in faith to honor him "in such a time as this". I also found some short video clips on the computer done by Jewish Rabis to illustrate different aspects of Purim.

Another important part in celebrating Purim is baking Hamantaschen; filled cookies that represent Haman's three cornered hat. We filled some of our cookies with chocolate chips and some with strawberry preserves. It was a trial and error experience. Some of our first cookies opened up completely in the oven, which they aren't supposed to do. What can I say? I'm a Gentile baker! :)

While cookies baked, we watched the Veggie Tales Esther movie and One Night With the King. (As an I the only parent who doesn't really get Veggie Tales?? I seemed far too preoccupied with the fact that Esther was an unidentifiable vegetable in an awkward shade of green, and that she wore huge shoulder pads even though she had no arms. I feel like I miss half of the produce humor.) I think we needed some down time as part of school. It felt good to divert from the regular routine. I will say though, that the day involved a lot of sitting down and being still. I was impressed that the boys held in for several hours, which made the day really relaxing for me in more ways than one.

A final element of a true Purim celebration is delivering gifts of food, called Mishloach mahot, to friends. The cookies were a long process, so I didn't hold the boys to more baking yesterday, but I'll invite them into the kitchen to help me make some blueberry cake this afternoon. I need a little thank you gift to deliver to my sweet friend, who let Hannah carpool with her for a class yesterday so I didn't have to take my other three kids out in the driving rain.

I was sad that Hannah was at her worldview class and wasn't here to celebrate with us, but she had her own big day. Her class memorized and performed scenes from Shakespeare, so it was a big ending to several weeks of preparation. Last night Hannah and I shared in some girl time as we went to visit with some friends preparing to deploy to a mission field in Spain. I enjoyed hearing hearing her Shakespeare tales during our long drives in the rain.

I enjoy learning about cultures and customs, and am thankful that homeschool often provides the impetus to explore and engage in ways that I wouldn't otherwise think to do. I'm convinced I'm constantly learning way more than the kids!

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