Celebrating Purim with books for children of all ages

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Jennifer Baer, Special to the Jewish Light

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? I was thinking it might be fun to be able to fly, although I probably wouldn’t be able to use GPS up there, which could definitely be a problem.

Who doesn’t love a superhero? From movies and comic books to T-shirts and bobble heads, the idea of a superhero appeals to people of all ages. They are proof that it only takes one person to change everything, to fix the world.

I think of Purim, which falls at the end of February (25-26), as a biblical version of a superhero story. There are the courageous heroes: Queen Vashti, who refused to obey her husband’s drunken requests, and Mordechai and Esther, who stood up for the Jewish people despite an uncertain future. Then there is the central villain, Haman, whose evil plot could have wiped out the Jewish of Persia. Not only was he defeated, but we get to commemorate his demise by enjoying never-ending variations of hamantashen.

My daughter had a Purim bat mitzvah a few years ago and my son had his bar mitzvah on Purim just last year. It’s the one time in life that you enjoy people “booing” at you while you are trying to read a story. While we celebrated Micah, we were blissfully unaware that life as we knew it would change just one week later. Hugs were replaced by elbow bumps, masks replaced wearing lipstick, and hand sanitizer became a prized possession. We even gave my mom a keychain that proclaimed that we love her more than toilet paper.

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Each year, Purim reminds us that there are many types of disguises beyond my super-cute Vashti costume. This year, our masks are more than just figurative, and the threat of a deadly virus is real. But maybe our true superpower is that even in darkness, we are able find moments of light. Just as Haman was defeated and his evil intentions foiled, so too will we defeat this pandemic, discard our masks, and wear lipstick once again.

Chag Purim Sameach, wishing everyone a happy, healthy Purim.

I hope you are able to check out these PJ Library and PJ Our Way books about courage.


Lilah Tov, Good Night

Written by  Mister G

Illustrated by  Noar Lee Naggan

Ages: 2 to 3 Years

Synopsis This family is leaving home on a long trip under cover of night. We don’t know why they’re leaving or where they’re going, but we do know on their journey, they take comfort in the natural world around them


Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim

Written by Deborah Bodin Cohen 

Illustrated by  Jago 

Ages: 5 to 7 Years

Synopsis

As the Israelites rush to leave Egypt after being freed from slavery, young Nachshon is the first to brave the water that must be crossed, even though he is afraid to take the plunge.


Seymour, the Formerly Fearful

Written by Eve B. Feldman

Ages: 9+

Synopsis

Heights, bugs, deep water: you name it, Seymour’s terrified of it. This becomes a VERY big problem when his Israeli cousin comes for a visit. Can Seymour keep his number one fear a secret?​


To register to receive free books from PJ Library for kids birth through 8 1/2, go to www.pjlibrary.org and for kids 8 1/2 through 12 years, go to www.pjourway.org to sign up.

Jennifer Baer works as the Director of Family and Teen Engagement at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years. Born in Memphis, Tenn., she holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University.