Mishloach Manot (mish-lock man-ote), Hamentaschen, King Ahasuerus (A-hash-ver-ous), Queen Esther, Mordecai, Hamen, Groggers, Megillah.
Preschool children throughout the area had a mouth full of sticky words, candies and cookies this month as they learned about and celebrated the holiday of Purim. Purim is a celebration of the most festive of Jewish holidays. It’s a time of prizes, noisemakers, treats and costumes.
“It’s like a Jewish Halloween,” said one 3 year old running by in his tie-dye clown costume at the annual Purim carnival, Sunday, March 16, at B’nai Tzedek.
Jewish children celebrate Purim by dressing up like Hamen, King Ahasuerus or Queen Esther, or in any costume. They enjoy crafts and games at their synagogues and then on Monday evening returned to temple, dressed in costume again, to listen to a reading of the Megillah, a special scroll, which tells the story of Purim.
“There’s a mean man and a nice Queen who’s Jewish, and the Jewish people win,” said Noah Chiet, a four year old at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville. The “mean man” is Haman, who works for King Ahasuerus. Haman wants to kill all the Jews because he’s angry at one Jewish man, Mordecai, who refuses to bow down to him. During this time Esther — who is Mordecai’s niece — is living among the King’s harem. The King does not know Esther is Jewish and he loves her very much. When Mordecai hears about Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jews, he persuades Esther to ask the King to stop Haman, a dangerous plan because she could be killed for speaking to the King out of turn.
Fortunately for Esther — and subsequently all the Jewish people — the King listens to Esther, the Jewish people are saved and Haman is put to death.
“We got to make lots of noise with groggers when the Rabbi says ‘Haman,’” Danny Silver — a five year old at B’nai Tzedek preschool — recalled.
As part of the service, every time the name of Haman is mentioned children and adults alike make booing and hissing sounds and shake their groggers.
It’s a fun way to celebrate Purim’s “happy ending,” when the Jewish people are saved.
During Purim, Jews around the world also eat Hamantaschen a cookie that represents Haman’s three cornered hat. In addition, Jews send out gifts of food or drink, and make gifts to charity. The sending of gifts of food and drink is referred to as shalach manos.