“The Jewish Federation supports holiday programming for young children and their families as a way of creating vibrant and celebratory Jewish life, and as a basis for further inspiring and engaging children over time.”
Purim. The name of this holiday conjures up images of fun and celebration: dressing up in costume to hear — and react to — the story of Esther, Haman (Boo! Hiss!) and Mordechai; families making hamantaschen together; exchanging gift baskets with family and friends; and one of the most festive meals of the year.
But increasing numbers of Jewish children today are growing up without these experiences and memories. Barbara Hirsh, Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning, emphasizes that lack of engagement in Jewish life — of which unfamiliarity with holiday customs can be a sign — can come about for many reasons. The family may not belong to a synagogue. Even if the parents were raised as Jews, they may have had limited or no engagement in Jewish life. In many homes, one parent is not Jewish and may not be knowledgable about these practices.
On three recent Sundays at three different locations across Greater Philadelphia (West Chester, Abington and Yardley), jkidphilly — a program of Jewish Learning Venture focused on strengthening Jewish identity among families with children — held hamantaschen-making events. (The Yardley event was organized by the Bucks County Jewish Coalition in partnership with jkidphilly.) Lori Rubin, Director of Family Engagement at Jewish Learning Venture, estimates that 225 people participated. Besides making hamantaschen, participants made Purim cards and baskets, enjoyed story time and played “Purim Lotto.” Rubin is particularly gratified that many people brought grandparents or friends.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has allocated more than $640,000 to jkidphilly for the 2015-16 program year. Hirsh explains why programs like jkidphilly’s Purim events are important to the Jewish Federation’s mission of supporting vibrant Jewish life in Greater Philadelphia: “The Jewish Federation supports holiday programming for young children and their families as a way of creating vibrant and celebratory Jewish life, and as a basis for further inspiring and engaging children over time. Increasing awareness of the impact of Jewish living, and enlarging families’ networks of peers who participate in frequent and meaningful Jewish activities should lead to more choices in support of Jewish identity and continuity.” She also emphasizes that it’s not just about the kids: “Purim is fun and can be kid-centered. And when kids become interested in something, their parents do too. So these events can also be a way to engage parents through their children.”
For more information on jkidphilly, please contact Lori Rubin at 215.320.0402 or [email protected], or visit jkidphilly.org. To learn more about how the Jewish Federation helps strengthen Jewish life in our area by strengthening families’ Jewish engagement, contact Barbara Hirsh at 215.832.0812 or [email protected]