A Most Complete Purim in Middle School
Charone Ousley, MS Jewish Studies/Humanities Teacher
In preparation for Purim, 6th grade students learned about the traditions and ritual observance of the holiday. Our exploration of Purim was anchored in the grade-wide values of food justice and Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof (pursuing justice). Students applied these values when they fulfilled the mitzvah of giving matanot l'evyonim (gifts to the poor). Sixth grade teachers and students partnered with Nourishing Hope, formally Lakeview Pantry, to provide over 400 pounds of food and toiletries to Chicagoans in need! Our students represented the BZ community with great pride, respect and dignity. 
The benefit of teaching multiple subjects is that my lessons are often multidisciplinary in nature. Students learned about the story of Purim within a historical context (they also learned to identify Iran on a world map.) The events that befell the Jews of Shushan took place in present-day Iran in 356 BCE. In order to bring this important story of Queen Esther’s bravery to life, students put on a play replete with costumes and sets. Students studied their lines and performed the play with enthusiasm for their fellow JK and SK students. All learners, especially kinesthetic learners, appreciated having the opportunity to learn the values embedded in the story through movement. Their performances were a huge success!
Purim is a time for students to actively participate in strengthening their connection to the Jewish community. Students exchanged mishloach manot (gifts of food) ensuring that at least two students received food portions of two items each. The students approached this mitzvah with care and offered each other warm "thank you’s" after each exchange. 
Finally, Purim is a celebratory holiday. As a grade we increased our joy by learning the moves to a basic country line dance that could be danced to the song, Mishe Nichnas Adar. It was also a perfect way to learn the Hebrew lyrics to this ubiquitous song. 
A hearty thank you to our 6th grade team and to our supportive administration!

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