Interviews with Characters from the Purim Story

  • 60 Minutes
  • Grades: 5-8
  • Lesson Plan
  • by: Debbie Shohat

Students research a specific character in Megillat Esther, and then assume the role of interviewer and responder as they compose a question-and-answer interview with that person.

Lesson objectives

Students will be able to describe:

1) The lives and careers of key figures in the Purim story

2) The historical events which took place during the time of Purim

Skills

The student will be able to:

1) Read and understand Megillat Esther (with or without English translation, depending on teacher’s decision)

2) Navigate the library to do basic research

Values

The student will appreciate:

1) That personality strengths can be used for either good or evil

Resources & Equipment needed

1) Copy of Megillat Esther for each student

2) Supplementary biographical dictionaries or other sources of biographical information about characters in the Purim period (from either library or Internet)

Procedure

Divide your hour as follows:

5 minutes – introduction with teacher examples

45 minutes – class work

5 -wrap up

Decide in advance whether students will work on this project independently or in pairs. Compose a list of Purim characters and distribute it to students. Students should select the individual they would most like to learn more about. If students would like to interview a minor character, they must choose two. Major characters include: 1) Esther 2) Mordechai 3) Haman 4) Achashverosh Minor characters include: 5) Bigson/Teresh 6) Vashti 7) Maidservant of Esther 8) The royal guard who read Achashverosh his diary 9) One of the builders of the gallows 10) A Jew living near Achashverosh’s palace 11) Zeresh, Haman’s wife You might also stipulate that question topics include at least one question about – the person’s family or background – the person’s personality traits – a significant contribution for which this person was responsible – historical events which made this person famous – contributions the person made – personal habits, and likes – events which the person witnessed – the influence of his surroundings on the person – how this person felt while witnessing certain events – what life was like for this person Students will read Megillat Esther to research/learn about the character. Then they will put themselves in the shoes of an interviewer who lived at the same time as the person; they will compose textually accurate questions and answers to those questions. They should include questions that will lead to the sharing of information they found personally interesting as they researched the life and times of the character.

Recommended: Require students to include a reference to the sources used for each answer, such as a specific verse in the Megilla; or to include a full and correctly formatted reference list with their interview. As a culminating activity, students will share their interviews with their classmates. They might do this by reading them aloud with a partner (the partner can be the interviewer and the student can pose as the famous character). This final activity might even include practice/rehearsal and costumes.

Wrap up: The last part of the lesson should be designated for wrapping up the main ideas of Purim and the characters involved. This would be an important time to note the effects that certain characters had in the story of Purim. This includes the power of certain personality traits that the characters have, and how these traits can be used either for good or evil. Classroom discussions also include: 1) How did each character play a significant role in the story of Purim? 2) What kind of character traits did these people have that made them who they were? 3) What do you think life was like for each of the characters? 4) Which moments during the Purim story made each of the characters feel either, scared, surprised, angry, confused, happy, sad, endangered?

Assessment: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the character they researched through additional activities. They might, for example, do a rotation activity in which each student sums up information about his or her leader with each other student in the class. plan and play a trivia game with the subject matter. take a test on the material.

Appendices

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