Joseph & Purim Parallels + More!

Jewish Studies

Andrew’s Monday/Wednesday Class

To start the week students were asked, What are differences and similarities between American and Jewish holidays? The students took the opportunity to reflect on what they experience on these two separate types of moments and what they mean to them. It led us to revisiting the story of Purim with a book and quick play with Inbal. From there, we hit the crescendo of class: non-bake hamantaschen! Whether they were filled with chocolate chips, apple sauce, green frosting or rainbow sprinkles, they were all delicious!

On Wednesday we discussed what the word “Purim” actually means and where it comes from. In preparation for grager/ra’ashan (noise maker) making for later in the class, we debated the ‘goodness’ of each character in the Purim chronicle. Some very, very interesting points were shared. The students ended the day making their own noisemakers from popsicle sticks, paper plates and kidney beans. We will close out Purim next week with a school-wide celebration on Wednesday!

Lee’s Monday/Wednesday Class

This week we continued learning about the Joseph story while also touching on some interesting parallels with the Purim story, which has been the focus of Hebrew Through Movement. We started with a question about times when we’ve had trouble recognizing somebody or being recognized, and students shared different stories of times that happened to them. We then continued acting out tableaus of our story, with students acting the different parts while others served as narrators and read from a translation of the original text. Students noted some fascinating themes in the story, especially in Pharaoh’s dreams, and we started a list of different ways we could understand what’s happening in the dreams. We then put some more work into our many-colored coat for Joseph, adding details from the story while hearing more of the story with the help of some new narrators. It was interesting to engage with a translation closer to the original text, and students did a nice job decoding the more antiquated language.

David’s Tuesday/Saturday Class

This week we discussed the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We began with the story of Moshe’s childhood and the burning bush. We talked about the meaning of being in a holy place, and about the symbolism of revelation. One of the suggestions was the understanding that there could be a connection to God and infinity, which could lead to a fire of inner vitality and not, god forbid, to extinction. We continued with the story of the ten plagues and tried to also see the Egyptian side of the story. The students wrote diary entries from the viewpoints of Egyptians experiencing the ten plagues. We learned all kinds of midrashim (commentaries) about the ten plagues, for example: 1) Following the verse that says that one frog came from the river of the Nile, the Midrash explains that every time the Egyptians tried to hit it, it split 2) Another midrash says that the darkness in Egypt was so heavy that it was impossible to move!

Lee & Marna’s Tuesday/Saturday Class

On Saturday students continued the story of Joseph by reading the story of how he rose to be powerful in Egypt and his brothers came to beg for food because of the famine in Canaan. In the process we discussed things that we feel humble/modest about and that make us proud about ourselves. We explored the difference between bragging/arrogance, and owning our gifts, while navigating the jealousy and feelings it may bring out in others.
Students worked in pairs to first share something they admired about their partner, and then they had to claim something they appreciate/are proud of about themselves. I loved the exercise because it was one of generosity, openness and honesty. It allowed them space to be good to each other and to themselves. We discussed this in comparison to the way Joseph’s brothers treated him, and then how he treated them when they came back to Egypt, before he disclosed his identity.

We then explored holding grudges and getting revenge. Students were asked how they would have felt if they were Joseph’s brothers seeing him in Egypt for the first time after all these years. In small groups they acted out skits that were about finding resolution when people hurt us or when we hurt others. They got a little silly and also quite imaginative, one skit spanning several decades, starting with a student and a teacher, then going into midlife and old age! I emphasized the importance of not pretending to be okay but to find the integrity and their truth within the imagined stories.

On Tuesday students shared times in their lives when they weren’t recognized or didn’t recognize someone and related it to Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers. We also added to our ‘rhyming themes’ when a student pointed out a parallel between Judah taking particular responsibility for the safety of his brother (being his brother’s keeper) while Cain had done the opposite. We talked about the meaning of the word ‘tikkun (repair)’, with a brief detour into the meaning of the phrase ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the world), and then discussed that this is a special kind of ‘rhyming theme’ the sages have traditionally looked for- a tikkun where something bad that was done in one story is ‘fixed’ by a better decision made later in another story (in this case, Judah takes responsibility for his brother, unlike both Cain and he and his brothers earlier in the story). Finally, we played a game inspired by the brothers’ failure to recognize Joseph, where some students took a turn trying to disguise their voice and say one of Joseph’s lines from the story, while their classmates, with eyes closed, tried to guess who was playing Joseph. Finally, we spoke about our upcoming transition into the stories of Moses and the Exodus, and our hopeful plan to mount one more theater production with this epic tale.

Richard’s Tuesday/Saturday Class

This week we continued the story of Moses with the golden calf at the base of Mount Sinai. The students related to the story through shared moments of lost hope in their own lives and more importantly how they overcame these moments of despair. The students later drew sketches of the golden calf story and the Israelites loss of hope in their leader not returning.
On Tuesday, we had an exciting review of everything Moses. Beginning the class with a review on the board with the KWL (Know | Want to Learn | Learned) chart followed by an intense game of jeopardy. Two teams, the Potatoes and Lemons both played very well and showed how much they have learned!

Hebrew through Movement


This week we continued learning about Purim and talking about the holiday costumes, while putting a special emphasis on Megilat Esther. We introduced the main characters (Haman, Esther, Mordechai and Achashverosh), and learned the verb lilbosh-ללבוש-to wear, as the kids tried on different costumes while performing the Megilla.
We used the following vocabulary:
King – Melech – מלך
Queen – Malka – מלכה
Castle – Armon – ארמון
To bow down – Le’hishtachavot – להשתחוות
Costume – Tachposet – תחפושת
We also practiced the difference between the following verbs:
To eat – le’echol – לֶאֱכֹל
To read – likro – לִקְרֹא
To wear – lilbosh – ללבוש


On Tuesday, the children enjoyed acting out two scenes in the Purim story in Hebrew using masks of Esther, Haman, Mordechai, Vashti and King Achashverosh. They had fun following commandments to put on the costumes and masks, to sit on the king and queen’s throne, to command Vashti to join the king at his banquet and then upon her refusal – to send her away from Shushan. The king then chooses Esther from among all the “Shushan citizens” to be his queen and commands her to sit on the queen’s throne next to him. Another scene involved Haman approaching Mordechai and Mordechai’s refusal to bow down (l’hishtachavot).


Please find information on the following below:

  1. Chazakah | Class of 2019 Confirmation Service | March 23
  2. Purim Announcements!
    Community Purim Carnival & Megillah Reading 3/24
    Book Drive and Card Making at the Purim Carnival
  3. Interfaith Families – Interest in Creating a Group?

1. Chazakah | Class of 2019 Confirmation Service | Shabbat Morning Services March 23

Chazakah is the culmination of years of Yachad, where our cadre of 10-12th grade students can proudly present what animates their Judaism and affirm their commitment to their religion and people in a creative and interactive way. The whole community is invited to learn, pray, and support these extraordinary students. This Shabbat morning service will be fun for all ages, with roles for all participants. Please plan on joining us! All 4th graders will lead the Shema and Vahavata and then the T/S 4th graders will head to class as usual.

2. Purim Announcements!

Community Purim Carnival and Megillah Reading, Sunday, March 24

Carnival at 9:30 AM, Megillah Reading at 11:30 AM
Bring the whole family to this Queen-themed celebration and party like a rockstar with your CBE family and clergy. We will have a bouncy house, carnival games, crafts, face painting, puppet show, hamentaschen, yummy treats, and more! General Admission: Free for all ages! Carnival Activities & Games: $18 all-access kids passes*
Buy Carnival Passes
*Purchase your passes by Friday, March 22. Passes purchased at the door will be $25.

Click here for information about the community megillah reading for all ages & party for 21+ on 3/20

Book Drive and Card Making at the Purim Carnival 3/24!

Yet another opportunity to share the spirit of our community and our love of reading! At the Purim Carnival the Youth Social Justice Committee is sponsoring a Book Drive and Card Making table to benefit pediatric patients at Methodist Hospital. Bring a gently used (or new) book to the Purim Carnival and stop by to add a card and ribbon. This is a great opportunity to talk with your kids about the importance of giving back to their community, and to help them choose a book of their own to donate to sick children! Books will also be available for purchase. Through Reach Out And Read (ROAR), pediatric patients at Methodist are read to by volunteers and then can take the books home with them. Preschool through early elementary ages books are always needed. If you have a child in middle school who would like to volunteer at this table please email Bonnie Kerker at

3. Interfaith Families – Interest in Creating a Group?

This year during Yachad registration, we invited families who identify as interfaith to identify themselves as such. Many Yachad families did so! We recognize the special blessings and challenges experienced in interfaith families and would like to create a sense of community among this group — which is bigger than one might think.

The partnership between parents and Yachad staff is critical in providing our students a strong foundation in Judaism. Knowing that many Yachad parents are themselves not Jewish, we want to ensure that there is nevertheless still a strong partnership with, and sense of belonging for, our interfaith families. We thus have in mind to offer and nurture a space for: 1) Interfaith families to find each other, learn from each other, and develop a mutual support system; 2) Jewish parents in interfaith families to find each other and lean on each other as they create Jewish homes and experiences for their children; and 3) Non-Jewish parents in interfaith families to find and support each other in their journey as non-Jews parenting Jewish children.

We’d love more information about what specific topics you might be interested in exploring further. Please reply to Erik Pitchal,, with any thoughts, suggestions, and questions. We really look forward to hearing from you!