Adar – Purim For A Month!

Well, it’s been awhile and we wanted to update everyone on life here as we head towards Purim. This country cracks me up. Everyone has told me in the school that Purim really takes over the whole month of adar (usually around March). “What?” I’ve said with great confusion. “But Purim is only a one (or two) day holiday.” Well, they were right. On the first day of Adar (the beginning of the month when Purim falls), I was in the middle of teaching my class when suddenly the door flew open and fifteen boys came in with hats and make-up and costumes singing a song about Purim. They proceeded to dance their way around the room and then leave. “Well, ok then,” I said to the kids who seemed to know more than I did, “let’s continue.” As you can guess, this continued to happen many, many times during the lesson. After that, every class asked if they could make their own line and run around the school singing to other classes. And this was only the beginning – the very beginning.

The next day was considered the “real” Rosh Chodesh or the “real” beginning of the month and it was even wilder than the day before. Then, the next day, the school had paid for huge plastic inflatable bouncing things to be brought into the yard. They had a d.j. and free cotton candy, and each class got to leave their classes for 20 minute to have fun for the beginning of the month of Adar (mind you, Purim isn’t until the 15th of the month!) While I was a bit overwhelmed by this activity and thought – come on, doesn’t anyone learn – I also stepped back to enjoy the festivities. Kids here have a lot of pressures, and at times, know a lot of pain much earlier than we would hope. They do need a chance to enjoy themselves and to express their energy. And, why not do it in a Jewish way, other than the many different ways that kids have known to express themselves when left to their own devices? This is a great way to imbue them with a love of the Jewish holidays.

The next week in school, I arrived to find that the students had written a “treatise” of how we are to interact with them in the class. The principal allows them to do this for the month of Adar. I am to begin the class with a joke each day (I’m not funny!), to let them out early if I say “sit down” or “be quiet” and many, many other things. And Purim is still a week away!

The Purim spirit is felt around Israel as well. Everywhere we go there are costumes to buy. Our kids already bought their costumes and they mention, at least once a day, what they plan to be at school, at home, at the festive meal, etc. etc. Their classrooms are also decorated for Purim as castles. The kids have brought in their pillows instead of the chairs they usually use, they have created a thrown for the king, and have confetti paper everywhere. Every school really “gets into” the holiday feel from their dress to the make-up of the room. It’s amazing.

Yehuda had his fourth birthday party at school last week. Josh made him a circus cake, as per his request and we did the usual party in school. They have a very set order of these parties in the Gan. Israeli schools all have the same tape of “birthday songs” and they do various games, dances, and activities with each song. It’s very cute and fun to watch. Yehuda shared his birthday with his best friend Hanan whose birthday is 3 days before Yehuda’s. They both seemed to have a really good time and Yehuda was happy as could be with his party and seemed none to worse off for not having a big extravagant party at home.

We had a great time meeting up with old Otzma friends last weekend. Derek and Jessica Smith were in town with a Pittsburgh mission and we went out to dinner together. We hadn’t seen them in over five years, but we were remarking how nice it was to pick up where we left off and to feel so comfortable together. It was very nice to see them! Come visit us and we will get a babysitter and go out for a nice meal with you too : )

That’s about it from here. Our jobs and the kids are keeping us very busy. Matan is going for his first belt in Karate soon. He’s very excited about that. And, at school, he is receiving his first Chumash (the Five Books of Moses) in an elaborate ceremony that his school is putting on this Friday. We are very excited about it and excited for him. He takes school and learning very seriously. Amichai has started walking, finally!, and is enjoying his new freedom. He is adorable and sweet, when he’s not tearing the house apart. Yehuda continues to be Yehuda – he’s enjoying his school and his friends a great deal. We found Matan and Yehuda playing together in Hebrew for the first time last week. All of a sudden they switched from English to Hebrew while playing Peter Pan and it took us by surprise. Undoubtedly there will be more of that to come.

We hope everyone is doing well. We wish you a wonderful, happy Purim and a great month.

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