Purim Dinnershpiel


    When I discovered that my kids had no idea what Purim was, I placated my very loud Jewish guilt by giving them my own Hebrew school lesson during Tuesday's dinner. 

    When I told my kids we'd be celebrating Purim this weekend, this is how they responded:

    "What's that?"

    Seriously. A waterfall of shandah on my not-Jewish-enough head. 

    True, it has been a while since we celebrated Purim. When my now 10-year-old was at BZBI preschool we celebrated then. He walked to school in his shark cosume, his pink face smiling between two rows of cloth teeth, shaking his dorsal fin, giddy that he got a second Halloween. When we had our first run at Hebrew school, I also took both of our boys to the Purim carnival at Rodeph Shalom. But recently? In our last few years away from Hebrew school, we sort of let that one slip by.

    No hard feelings, Purim.

    To placate my very loud Jewish guilt, I had my own Hebrew school Purim lesson during Tuesday night's dinner.

    "Now Haman, he didn't like Mordechai because Mordechai refused to bow down to him. Haman was a man full of vanity, hate and rage. Mordechai made Haman so angry that Haman hated all the Jews and wanted every one of them killed."

    "Why is it that someone always wants to kill the Jews?" Maxon asked.

    "Really," Ezra added.

    "People are afraid of what they don't understand," I responded, "and sometimes it makes them think and do bad things."

    I continued with the story and told them how we shout at Haman's name when the Megillah is read. We went on with our dinner, while I gave them a Purim Pop Quiz to make sure they remembered who Esther and Mordechai were.

    Ezra asked me to tell the story again. So I did.

    Every time I got to Haman's name, the two of them shouted and booed. They were giddy with it, trying to drown out the other. Then Maxon wanted to see pictures from Purims past. We went back in the iPhoto archives, back to the shark costume days. Maxon remembered how hard it was to sit in circle time with the stuffed tail beneath him, how much he liked hamantashen and a grogger he used during class.

    Jewish guilt mollified.

    This weekend, I will bring both boys to the Rodeph Shalom Purim carnival. I will also volunteer there for an hour or so.

    While Maxon has a little Purim history to draw from, this will be Ezra's first Purim experience. He's too big for that old shark costume, but based on recent obsessions I have a feeling I will be escorting Jedi knights to the synagogue. Hopefully, they will have enough fun that when I bring up Purim next year, they won't say, "What's that?"