By Rabbi Rachel Esserman
As the pandemic continues, many group Purim events have been cancelled or scaled back. That doesn’t mean fun activities aren’t available. My favorite is, of course, reading a picture book that includes touches adults will also enjoy. Then there are websites that feature activities for children and their fun-loving elders. If all else fails, making hamantaschen is always a great holiday activity since the results are edible.
“Meet the Hamanstaschen”
“Meet the Hamanstaschen: A Purim Mystery” (Viking) was my introduction to Alan Silberberg’s work. How I missed “Meet the Latkes” and “Meet the Matzah” is beyond me, because his latest work is exactly the kind of funny, strange, food-related holiday tale I enjoy. It reminds me of the “Fractured Fairy Tales” segments that appeared in the original “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” Silberberg’s work is basically a fractured holiday tale, which features a mystery, characters who are food and a child-friendly version of the Purim story.
The three main characters are hamantaschen who insist they are detectives, rather than cookies. A mysterious character asks them to find the missing megillah (the scroll read on the holiday) so the Purim play and party will be able to take place. Chaos ensues as the three hamantaschen... um, rather detectives, interview the characters (different types of food) who are taking part in the Purim play. But the hamantaschen... um, detectives, are confused because the information they’ve been given about Purim is wrong. However, both the story of Purim and the mystery are revealed in ways sure to delight readers.
In addition to lively text, the drawings are clever and serve the plot well. I hope Silberberg decides to create more holiday books featuring food as his main characters. The only problem is that, after reading the book, I was hungry for some hamantaschen!
General holiday information and games
The web has been a boon for parents searching for ways to amuse and/or teach their children about Jewish holidays. Some helpful sites include:
Mainstages’ “Purim Games You Can Play At Home” by Eva Casey found here.
The P. J. Library’s “Celebrating Purim With Kids” available here and “18 Great Ideas for Purim” found here.
JLiving’s “12 Creative Purim Activities Your Kids Will Love” found here.
JewishKids.org’s “Purim Videos” (see here), “Purim Songs” (listen here), “Purim Stories” (read here) and “Purim Coloring Pages & Crafts” (available here).
It was a surprise to see how many links popped up after googling “hamantaschen recipe for children.” For simple recipes:
The PJ Library features “Super Easy Hamantaschen Recipes to Make With Kids” found here.
JewishKids.org offers “Purim Hamantashen” found here. In addition, look at the menu on the right side of the screen and check out the recipes for “Purim Cake,” “Purim Corn Flakes” and “Purim Popcorn.”
Jamie Geller offers a recipe for “Candyland Hamantaschen” found here. Jelly beans, chocolate and hard candy were among her family’s favorite flavors.
Two videos on Youtube.com offer help to parents who’ve never made hamantaschen before. “Easy Child Friendly Hamantaschen | Cooking with Kids” can be found here. The PJ Library video “Making a Giant Hamentashen with Kids!!!” is located here.