Photo of Sharon Bacharach
Sharon Bacharach

Graduate Center for Jewish Education

As early childhood educators and teachers, it is important to recognize that Judaism is a diverse and rich tapestry of cultures and traditions. Shabbat and holidays are celebrated in unique and meaningful ways depending on where we come from. From the foods we eat to the clothing we wear, to the songs we sing and the tunes we use for brachot, each tradition is an essential part of the Jewish experience.

When it comes to teaching children about Purim, we typically focus on the important characters of the story, such as Mordechai, Esther, and Haman. However, what often gets overlooked is the opportunity to learn about the Persian culture, which is the setting for the Purim story. As educators, it is our responsibility to teach our students about the diverse cultures and customs that make up Judaism.

As an educator, I encourage my students to create culturally inclusive experiences for their students and families. In my fieldwork course I teach, which concentrates on family education and coincides with our School, Family, and Community Course, I assign my students to create a slideshow that teaches about Purim and the Persian culture. I ask them to reach out to members of the Persian community and learn about how they celebrate Purim, what traditions they follow, and how they read the Megillah. I also encourage my students to explore the differences between Ashkenazi Judaism and Mizrahi Judaism in their research.

While this assignment may be challenging, the end result is worth it. By embracing and celebrating the diversity of Judaism, we create an enriching and inclusive learning environment for our children, families, and teachers. Let us strive to not only teach the important story of Purim, but also the cultures and traditions that make it a truly special celebration