Meanwhile, Back at the Shushan Bar & Grill...
Make the story of Purim new again with plenty of fun ways for kids to participate.
About two months before Purim, curious noises fill our home. There's a lot of "You know it, baby," said in a confident,raspy voice. And "Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!"--always uttered fast, like a racing train. Invariably, these are followedby a lot of giggling. Several years ago my husband, Phillip, began telling our children a really snappy version of atraditional favorite, the Purim story. Instead of that stilted tale often seen in Hebrew school books ("I must get to theking," Esther said. "For I cannot let Haman fulfill his evil plans."), Phil's account has Vashti employed at the ShushanBar & Grill (she returns to her old job after losing the king's favor), Haman telling his unwitting admirers, "You know it,baby!" when they heap praise upon him, and King Ahashverosh's eyes bulging out to Mexico and back when hecatches sight of the lovely Esther. He gasps, then calls: "Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!"
My children can't get enough of it. They giggle, they scream with pleasure. They literally fall on the floor with laughter.And at the end of the story they always say the same thing: "Tell it again!" If only it could be that way for everyone.Instead, many anticipate a little catnap during the reading of the megillah, the Scroll of Esther, or maybe bring along apaperback to sneak inside. After all, haven't we told the same story year after year after year? Yes, but familiar doesnot have to mean stale. In fact, all it takes it a little preparation to hearing the story of Purim new, fun andmeaningful again for you and your family.
Why They Did What They Did
We all know that Esther was pretty and Mordechai brave and Haman evil. But in fact, a number of interesting textsexist which explore the characters of these famous figures, based on historical information. Before listening to themegillah, do your research. You can start with the Encyclopedia Judaica, continue at your synagogue or templelibrary, and even look into sites on the Web. Or, invite family members to offer their own insight as to why Hamanhated the Jews, or why Esther was so daring.
Instead of taking the familiar route and hearing the megillah at your congregation (there is no halachic or religiouslylegal obligation to hear it as part of a minyan or quorum of ten), ask your children to present the story as a father ormother reads the text. The children can act out the megillah, as a dramatic play starring themselves (remember, it onlytakes about 50 minutes to read the entire story), or using favorite toys like dinosaurs and plastic bugs, Barbie dolls andtoy soldiers. Have children create their own costumes (napkins colored with felt pens make lovely temporary attire) fortheir little puppets. Or invite boys and girls to make their own paper dolls of Mordechai, Esther and Haman.