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Beth-El Happenings

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By Ramona L. Brand, Director of Youth Learning

Religious School Purim on Broadway! Sunday, March 5

Brown Religious School: 601 N. Parham Rd., 10 a.m. – noon

Families in the community are invited! Wear your costumes for the Purim Parade

The Religious School will celebrate Purim on Sunday, March 5, with a crowd-pleasing, Tony-winning Musical Purim Shpiel!

This annual event starring teachers, parents and students is a great way to kick off your Purim celebration. We’ll rock the stage with numbers from some of the most popular Broadway numbers!

Parents and students are invited to participate in this annual school Purim event. We’ll shpiel, listen to the Megillah, make Mishloach Manot Bags, eat some Hamantashen and shout down the name of HAMAN!

Jewish Humor in the Face of Adversity

“They tried to kill us, We survived, Let’s eat!”

This one-liner joke is a standard about Jewish holidays and historical events. The Jewish experience has often been that of the David and Goliath story: the underdog against a formidable adversary.

Yet in the face of persecution or near annihilation over thousands of years the Jewish people have retained both resilience and a powerful sense of humor. Purim is the quintessential holiday in which humor and lightheartedness is the storyteller through which an existential threat is vanquished.

The Purim Shpiel became the central vehicle to raise hope, mock the enemy and triumph over extinction with a triangular cookie in hand. How did this tradition develop and why did humor become the response to danger?

Jewish humor got its start in the Torah and continued through Jewish history to help cope with difficult situations, deflect feelings of hopelessness, and most importantly to poke fun at the powerful in a surreptitious manner.

Shpiel is Yiddish for Skit or Play. the earliest recorded Shpiels, got their start in Eastern Europe in the 1400s and took the form of clever rhyming monologues summarizing the Megillah. Over the next few centuries these expanded into full blown plays with costumes and masking and were often performed by Yeshiva students or in private homes.

By the 1800s The Shpiel included musicians, full length plots and large casts and had become public viewing. By the middle of the 20th century and into the 21st, the Shpiel became the center of the synagogue Purim celebration and was often a parody of a Broadway play or popular movie.

No matter its format, the Purim Shpiel reminds us that Jewish humor has been an important tool in Jewish survival and proving that the “Pun is mightier than the Sword.”

March Religious School Calendar:

Sundays: March 5, 12, 19, 26

Wednesdays: March 1, 15, 22, 29

Virtual Hebrew:

Mondays: Marcy 27

Thursdays: Marcy 2,16, 23, 30

Temple Beth-El Tot Shabbat Services:

When: Saturday, March 4

Where: Belmont Library, 3100 Ellwood Ave, Richmond 23221

Time: 10 – 11a.m.

For families with children age Birth -5 / Open to the entire community

Families can enjoy a Shabbat service geared for young children and filled with music, stories, movement and more. A musical, meaningful service designed for wiggles.

See some recent photos (below and top): School director Ramona Brand led 6th and 7th graders on a Jewish Art Tour at the VMFA on Feb. 5th. Students enjoyed learning about Israel’s geography with this giant floor map during a guest presentation. A kindergarten student shows a picture he created of an animal with its Hebrew name and other pictures from other students. 

Temple Beth-El Religious School employs the best practices in Jewish Education! to raise the curiosity and literacy of our students, teachers, and families! Contact Ramona L. Brand, at 804-355-3564 ext. 111 or r.brand@bethelrichmond.org  to learn more about our vibrant Jewish education and our remarkable congregation or visit http://www.bethelrichmond.org/education/brown-religious-school/  to find a registration form.