Purim is the favorite kids’ holiday in Israel. This super fun holiday has the making of the perfect children’s festivity – Costumes, parties, sweets, decorations, parades, time off from school, and seeing the adults around them dress up.
When you consider how to become a teacher in Israel, keep in mind it’s not only about work and studios classroom sessions, there are always seasonal events, like Purim, that allow you and the kids to take ‘fun’ to a whole new level like planning parties, creating theme costumes, and playing games all day.
Purim is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish people’s survival despite the evil plot of Haman, to wipe out the Jews, in the Persian Empire. The holiday’s main traditions are masquerading, drinking, and eating sweet pastries filled with sweet poppy seeds, chocolate or other more modern takes of the filling, called Hamantaschen (Oznei Haman, The Ears of Haman).
So what actually happens during this holiday?
- Although Purim is a single date on the Jewish calendar, many elementary schools celebrate it all week long with different costume themes each day. For example, during Pajama Day, on the week leading up to the holiday, you can come to school in your PJs and slippers, while on Opposite Day students can dress up as teachers and teachers as students. This can be a bit of work but so much fun for everyone.
- Costume contests can be seen at schools a few days before Purim, but also at other places of work as well as at youth groups’ festivals like the at the Israeli Schots. These festivals consist of food stands, dance performances, and games that happen throughout the day.
- Mishloach Manot, meaning ‘sending potions’ is a Purim tradition where food and gifts are sent to family and friends. Its origin is from the Book Esther, ensuring everyone has enough food for the Purim feast and to increase the connection between Jews and their neighbors. Today, families put together baskets of food, many times sweets, and exchange with friends at school or in their neighborhoods. Often, these packages are colorfully decorated and even hand made.
- Costume parades are very common during Purim. These are usually organized by the local municipality for kids and adults to enjoy a fun walk in their costumes with music and performances all around. Many times entire classrooms and schools walk together displaying uniform costume themes.
Masa Israel Teaching Fellows are fortunate to experience this holiday with their students. Purim is such a fun time to bring teachers and students together to create unique projects and learning opportunities that are outside for the regular curriculum.