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Purim

On Purim and Women Teachers of Text

The holiday of Purim, whose observance centers around the public chanting of the Book of Esther, is a yearly opportunity to reflect on women in the Jewish textual tradition, and women’s relationship to this tradition. A woman, after all, has top billing as one of the story’s two heroes, a true rarity within the Bible. With courage and humility, Esther skillfully maneuvers the nuances of her socio-political context to save her people. The story is riveting and her role is prominent.

Purim Poem: Mishloach Manot

On my neighbor’s doorstep
I left a brown paper bag.
In it, I put two hamentaschen,
a clementine,
some chocolate pretzels,
and a small box of raisins.
To increase peace, love, and
friendship in the world,
obviously.
And then I walked away
feeling lighter,
unburdened,
the weight of endless obligation
lifted
for a moment.

Vashti, Purim, and Women's History Month

I have a vague recollection of the first time I learned about Vashti. I was sitting at circle time on a primary-colored rug in my pre-K class at Sunday school and was told, “Vashti was not nice to the King. She would not dance for the King.” And we all just nodded our heads in sympathy for King Ahashuarus. “Poor King.” We all thought, “Vashti is evil.”

Henrietta Szold sends nurses Rose Kaplan and Rachel Landy to Palestine to begin the work of Hadassah.

January 18, 1913
"This is what your group ought to do … You should do practical work in Palestine."

Death of Ruth Fredman Cernea, cultural anthropologist of Jews in Myanmar and Washington, DC

March 31, 2009

Ruth Fredman Cernea said, "Jewish humor is not silly, but it is absurd absurdity. It is the opposite of deep seriousness."

Laverne Cox's Brave New Platform

I consider myself a feminist, and I also strive to combat other axes of oppression in my daily life, but sometimes I fall through. Far too often, I’ll stay quiet when I hear someone make a transphobic comment or a misogynistic remark. Some days I’m really not up to challenging that person, but other times I just let myself believe that it’s not my battle, that it doesn’t matter, that someone else will take care of it.

Bella and Esther: If You've Got It, Flaunt It

How did Esther and Bella Abzug make change in their communities? How have Jewish women used costumes to help them achieve their goals? What can these stories teach us about gender and Judaism today?

Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity

Throughout history, activists have chosen different costumes and personas as strategic tools to help them stand up against injustice. Examine how the biblical figure Esther and the historical figure Bella Abzug fought for justice and liberation by adopting personas that helped them to achieve their goals. JWA staff will demonstrate ways to use the stories of these women in your classrooms as you prepare for Purim.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Purim." (Viewed on October 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/purim>.

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