Brave Like Queen Esther: “I am strong, I am brave, I can do hard things.” 
Tamara Mizrachi, Nursery Teacher
Every year on the 14th day of Adar, we celebrate the holiday of Purim. Purim is a special holiday in the Jewish culture because it celebrates the story of one of our Jewish heros, Queen Esther. Students learn that Queen Esther first disguised her true identity from her husband, the King, but then uses her Jewish identity and bravery in spite of fear to save the Jewish people. In honor of her story, it's customary to dress up in costumes, have parties and read the Megillat Esther. The lesson is also an opportunity to show our youngest leaders how one mitzvah can lead to many more mitzvahs and to show how even one person in a group can have a positive impact on others and the world. They too realize how they can, in many small ways, make a significant difference in repairing our world.  
Our Nursery students fully embraced our Purim festivities this past week and have been immersed in the story of Queen Esther and her bravery over the past month. The students enjoyed hearing and actively participating in the story of Megillat Esther, dancing at the palace, taking turns playing the roles of King Ahashverosh, Queen Esther, Mordechai, and Haman, shaking their Rashanim (noise-makers) when they heard Haman’s name and sending Haman to “kindness school” in the end. 
Students had the opportunity to make their own groggers out of used recycled milk cartons, which they embellished with washing tape, sharpies and sticky gems. The festivities also included a practice round that began with making hamentashen out of clay and beads then ended in forming and baking real hamentashen.
Nursery students also assembled then handed out Mishloach Manot bags to our helpers around the school to say thank you for all they do. Finally, each student made crowns or masks and helped create the city of Shushan by using a variety of recyclables. Our Purim celebration concluded with the class dressing up in costumes and having a joyous celebration with festivities! 
The students also found new depth to one of our Nursery mantras, “We are strong. We are brave. We can do hard things.” They have recently held lively classroom discussions about what it means to be kind and brave. Here are some of their thoughts:  

When were you brave like Esther? 

"When I went deeper and deeper in the waves at the dunes." — Asher W. 
"When my mommy stayed in my house and my brother comed in the school I was sad. But then I was very brave coming to school." — Rani S.
"I was crawling into a little space and I had to be brave to squeeze in." — Winnie P. 
"When I go up in the air upside down and hang upside down on the ladder at my house I’m brave." — Yona H.
"I’m brave about scary noises." — Madeleine V.
"When I didn’t want to come to Chicago and then we did come to Chicago." — Elias B.
"I can do this!" — Theo G.
"When it’s dark in the night time I’m brave and in the morning, too." — Lucas F.

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