Purim, celebrated this past Thursday night and Friday at The Rashi School, was a day of joy and celebration, and because it’s Rashi, had excellent learning and community building mixed in. Read on for how we celebrated.

Costumes and Spirit(ed) Days

Lions, and tigers, and Queen Esthers, oh my! As befits Purim, a holiday where we are commanded to celebrate and be happy, the classrooms at Rashi were full of special programming, activities, and glee. Kindergarteners made puppets of characters from the Purim story, Rashi art students created monochromatic works of art for Monochromatic Spirit Day, and Middle School participated in a special Purim ‘escape room,’ using clues to solve a mystery with their learning group. Here’s what Rabbi Sharon Clevenger had to say about Rashi spirit and costumes: “It’s been awesome seeing students and teachers dive into each spirit day with real flair. One grade 1 student was so excited about inside out and backward day that she even wore her jacket backward and zipped up! And the costumes that I saw today… Plenty of Esthers and Mordechais, but also some non-traditional figures like DMC from Run DMC, a gumball machine, the entire Peppa Pig “cast,” the Fundations reading cards (grades K and 1 teachers) characters from Among Us (Middle School faculty). In a year where so much is so serious, it’s been uplifting to flip the script and see everyone play in the name of Jewish tradition.”

Lions, and tigers, and Queen Esthers, oh my!

Academic

Excellent and out of the box learning was also a part of Purim this year. In Middle School for the Grade 7 Family Education program, students are debating whether or not Esther was an upstander of bystander in the Purim story. This weekend students will interview their parents/adults about an upstander that inspires them.

Grade 8 students are researching women who lived in the 17th-21st centuries named Esther, and writing letters between these historical Esthers and the biblical queen Esther. Students are making astute observations and connections. Esthers include Estee Lauder, Esther Rome, Esther Lederer (Ann Landers), Esther Gottesman (Dead Sea Scrolls), and others.

Yachad Organized Baking Event

Yachad: Rashi’s Parent Council, is organizing a series of ‘Kehillah (Community) Cooks,’ opportunities for parents, students, and the community to connect around cooking and the Rashi community. The inaugural Kehillah Cooks was hamantaschen baking with Rashi parent (P’28) and Temple Beth Elohim Rabbi Rachel Saphire. Rabbi Saphire taught participants how to make the dough, shape the hamantaschen, and fill them with delicious fillings. The event created tasty treats, and strengthened the Rashi community as we prepared to celebrate Purim. JulieSue Goldwasser, Kehillah Committee co-chair shared, “Our hamantaschen activity was great because kids of all ages were able to bake together and our leader of the program wore two hats: Rashi parent and local rabbi. Rabbi Rachel Sapphire did an incredible job connecting the families to the education the kids are learning inside the building. In addition, holidays are particularly hard this year because of the pandemic. We hope that by getting together for virtual holiday celebrations, Yachad can add some fun and excitement to all of the Jewish holidays and make our families feel connected to one another and to the Rashi community. And of course, everyone loves hamantaschen!”

We hope that by getting together for virtual holiday celebrations, Yachad can add some fun and excitement to all of the Jewish holidays and make our families feel connected to one another and to the Rashi community. And of course, everyone loves hamantaschen!

Multigenerational Programming

While things look a little different this year, some things remain the same, including our deep connection with our Hebrew Senior Life and NewBridge on the Charles neighbors. Grade 1 gave a Purim parade for residents, bringing them into our halls virtually, a perfect way to celebrate the holiday and bring joy. NewBridge saw  soccer players, peregrine falcons, Queen Esthers, a tiger, RUN DMC, and many others! “NewBridge neighbors are an important part of our holiday celebrations and we couldn’t imagine a Purim without them as active participants. Rashi students gave NewBridge residents a burst of joy today. In doing so, our students experienced firsthand the power of helping people feel more connected, seen, and loved,” shared Adrien Khelemsky, director of community engagement.

Rashi students gave NewBridge residents a burst of joy today. In doing so, our students experienced firsthand the power of helping people feel more connected, seen, and loved

Giving to Others

Next week Grade 3-5 students will be putting together hygiene packages for Hope and Comfort with uplifting notes to accompany them. Students will fill up bags with donated items and will go to their classrooms to create personal cards to lift the spirits of the person recieveing it. This project was organized by our Social Justice team to fulfill the Purim obligation of matanot le’evyonim (gifts for the poor).

Torah Learning

Rabbi Clevenger shared in her weekly Shabbat Message, “There is a pivotal moment in the Purim story when Mordechai sends word to Esther that she must approach the king and speak up on behalf of her people, the Jews. Esther equivocates, because approaching the king without an invitation can lead to immediate execution. Nevertheless, Mordechai persists. He admonishes Esther to speak up, adding: “And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis.” What if we think of ourselves in this way? Perhaps we are here to stand up and speak out, to claim our power and to bring power to the powerless? This is exactly what we teach our children here at Rashi, and I can’t share that fact enough!”