Two fish.Significance of the Month
Adar is the 12th and final month of the Jewish calendar. The Talmud teaches, "When the month of Adar comes we increase our happiness." Adar is known for its frivolity and joy, because in it we celebrate the holiday of Purim and we begin preparations for Passover. Adar is so fun that during a leap year we get to do it twice.
To compensate for the fact that the lunar year is eleven days shorter than the solar calendar, the rabbis developed a way to include an extra month in the year to ensure that the months fell in their proper season. During a leap year, the month of Adar is repeated and we observe Adar I and Adar II. In this situation, Purim falls during Adar II. Holidays
Adar contains a number of special Shabbatot on which special Torah portions and haftarot are read. The Shabbat immediately before Rosh Chodesh Adar is known as Shabbat Shekalim, on which we learn about the Half-Shekel that every Jew had to donate to the Temple. The Shabbat before Purim is called Shabbat Zachor (Remember) on which we read of the atrocities done to the Israelites by the nation Amalek, and the commandment to erase all memory of Amalek. Haman, the villain of the Purim story, is descended from Amalek. The Shabbat after Purim is known as Shabbat Parah, and we read about the ritual of the Red Heifer which purified people who had become ritually impure through contact with the dead.
The Fast of Esther is on the 13th of Adar. This day commemorates the fast that Esther imposed on the Jews of Shushan before she beseeched King Achashverosh to save the Jews from Haman.Purim
falls on the 14th of Adar and celebrates the heroine Queen Esther, who saved the Jews of Persia from the evil Haman. Purim is the holiday of hidden miracles, on which we read the book of Esther. Jews wear costumes on Purim to show that like the Book of Esther, one must go beyond the surface appearance to gain a true understanding. We are commanded to give charity to the poor, send packages of food to friends and family and to have a festive meal.Women to Celebrate
Vashti - Queen of Persia, who refuses to dance for the King at his party, resulting in her subsequent exile. Though often overlooked in the Purim story, she is one of the earliest champions of women's rights.
Esther - Vashti's successor as Queen of Persia and heroine of the Purim story. She used her power as the Queen of Persia to save the Jewish people of Persia from certain death. Esther is a model of grace, dignity, courage, and profound beauty. Famous Women's YahrzeitsGertrude Elion
- 5 Adar 5759 (February 21, 1999). Chemist who was influential in creating drugs to cure many diseases, including Leukemia, herpes, gout, and immunity disorders. She was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine and she was inducted to the Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Women's Hall of Fame.Anna Ticho
- 12 Adar 5740 (February 29, 1980). Israeli painter, famous for her etchings of her beloved Jerusalem landscape. Her house has become a Jerusalem landmark.Anna Sokolow
- 22 Adar 5760 (March 29, 2000). Dancer and choreographer who was influential in the development of Modern Dance. Her philosophy as a choreographer led her to create works of dramatic contemporary imagery, showing both the lyric and stark aspects of human experience.Text Studies
Purim Guide - This resource guide contains several text studies about different aspects of Purim, as well as suggested Purim programs.Purim Guide
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Mask Making - On Purim, the holiday of hidden miracles, we wear masks to show that things are never as they seem. To gain a true understanding, we must go beyond the surface. Make masks to wear for Purim. This activity can be combined with a conversation on "The Masks We Wear."
Jerusalem Landscape Painting - Celebrate Anna Ticho by painting landscapes of Jerusalem.
Interpretative Dance - In the spirit of Anna Sokolow, run an interpretative dance workshop. You may want to invite a dance group from campus to this event.
Matanot La-Evyonim & Mishloach Manot Making - On Purim there is a special commandment to give matanot la-evyonim, gifts to the poor. Another commandment of Purim is to give mishloach manot, baskets of food, to friends and family. Combine these two commandments by preparing food baskets for the poor.
The Masks We Wear - Purim is the holiday of hidden miracles. On it we wear masks and costumes to show that things are never as they seem on the surface. Have a conversation where you discuss the metaphorical masks that members of the group feel they wear in their daily lives. Does society force us to "wear masks" or to cover up our true identity?
Roles of Women in the Workplace Throughout History - During Adar we celebrate several women who were revolutionaries in their field. Beginning with Queen Esther who broke all precedent in her proactive efforts to save the Jewish people, to Gertrude Elion, the Nobel Prize winning chemist who faced severe career obstacles because she was a woman. Are there specific roles for women in the workplace? Do women still face obstacles? What are the career goals of members of the group?
Combating Evil: Understanding the Commandment to Obliterate the Nation of Amalek - On Shabbat Zachor we read about the Biblical commandment to destroy the nation of Amalek and to erase their memory. Does this sound like the appropriate way to deal with one's enemies? Is it possible for an entire nation to be corrupt? What is the proper way to deal with evil?