Sunday, February 20, 2011

Portuguese Jews Reach Out to the Poor on Purim

With a month to go, we’re all in the throes of getting ready for Purim – the happiest holiday on the Jewish calendar. But there’s a serious side to Purim that kids should be aware of as well, and that’s Matanot Le’Evyonim – Gifts for the Poor. Portuguese Jews make sure to bring this message home. Once the Megillah is read on Purim morning the synagogue youth leader takes youngsters on a door-to-door campaign, collecting money in velvet bags that are distributed to the less fortunate in the community. What’s more, on Purim day poor people are not ashamed to knock on the doors of their fellow Jews, asking for help. Every household has its own pile of coins ready for distribution.

Helping the underprivileged is an important Purim lesson. In between learning about the story of Esther, how about organizing a Purim Costume Drive? Ask your students to bring in last year’s costume as a donation to less fortunate kids who don’t have the means for creating a fancy getup.

What about volunteering at a local soup kitchen the day before or after your Purim festivities?
I am sure you can come up with even better ways to get the message across that it is important to reach out to the needy.

Food for thought as you start your Purim lessons.
Speaking of food for thought – I’ll be back over the next few weeks with some fun Purim food customs.

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