More than costumes and masks: While everyone enjoys the revelry of Purim, underneath the surface, the holiday conceals a rich spectrum of critical Jewish issues. The Purim story addresses questions of Jewish identity and assimilation, of choosing between two evils to produce a desired outcome, and even of the very notion of Jewish peoplehood. Through a brief examination of some key sections of Megillat Esther, we'll address these and other issues related to Purim, and offer some creative ways to introduce them into the classroom.
Rabbi Reuven Spolter currently teaches Jewish studies at the Orot College of Education in Elkana, Israel. Rabbi Spolter served as the rabbi of the Young Israel Congergation in Oak Park in Oak Park, MI, from 2001 to 2008, and as the rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation in West Harford, CT, from 1998 to 2001. He has also taught Judaic studies to middle school students at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ, as well as High School Judaic studies at both the Hebrew High School of New England in West Hartford, CT, and the Akiva Hebrew Day School in Southfield, MI.
He has lectured on informal Jewish education in the United States, and has taught informally in numerous settings, including Hebrew School students both in Michigan and Connecticut.
Rabbi Spolter earned his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Yeshiva University, and a Master's degree in Jewish Education from Yeshiva’s Azrieli School of Jewish Education. He received rabbinical ordination at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. He writes regularly on topics that include Israel, Judaism and Jewish education on his blog, "Chopping Wood," and has made hundreds of his lectures and essays on numerous Jewish topics available on his website.