Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity
On Purim we dress in costume to create a new persona. We delight in unexpected images. We poke holes in the humdrum everyday roles of men and women, rich and poor, young and old. Our assumptions about people shift, and thus, the holiday transforms us.
People often choose different costumes and personas as a strategic tool to help them stand up against injustice. In this Go & Learn guide we will focus on two remarkable Jewish women: The biblical figure, Esther, and the historical figure, Bella Abzug. Both women fought for justice and liberation, adopting personas that helped them to achieve their goals. In our featured document, Bella Abzug tells us how she decided to wear distinctive hats and gloves as a strategy for overcoming the disregard she experienced as a young female attorney fighting for justice.
- People often choose different costumes and personas as a strategic tool to help them stand up against injustice.
- By altering their outward appearances and concealing their true identities, Bella Abzug and Queen Esther were both able to use social stereotypes and prejudices to their advantage in order to achieve their goals.
- What were the two Jewish women in this lesson able to accomplish by hiding their true identities and/or changing their outward appearances?
- How do women of today alter their appearances or hide their identities to outwardly conform to social or beauty norms?
- For youth:
Purim, Jewish leaders, and the roles we choose
- For family/congregational education:
Purim, Esther, and Bella Abzug: Wearing costumes and choosing roles
- For adult women:
Costumes, identity, and Jewish women’s history