Temple Beth Chai of Coral Springs – Phyllis Lasky, Stephanie Schwartz, and Rabbi Kaplan spent Sunday morning handing out traditional Purim gift baskets to students and their families. {Photos by Jill Fox}

By Jill Fox

Children dressed in their Halloween costumes in February can only mean one thing – it’s Purim.

The annual Jewish festival, which begins on the evening of Thursday, February 25, commemorates the survival of the Jews from Persian rule.

In typical Purim fashion, synagogues usually hold a carnival, but Covid has forced them to make other plans this year.

Giving out Mishloach Manot (baskets of fruit and sweets) to friends and neighbors is a customary part of the holiday, and Parkland synagogues took it to the next level with drive-through celebrations on Sunday.

The religious school staff at Temple Beth Chai in Coral Springs met in the Publix parking lot at Heron Bay to distribute more than 40 Mishloach Manot bags to students and their families.

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“I can’t tell you how great it was to see my kids again,” said Education Director Phyllis Lasky. “More importantly, it was an ideal way to see the children without a computer screen.”

Still holding religious school classes virtually, Temple Beth Chai’s staff feels the experience has offered more avenues to teach and explore than in a traditional classroom.

Congregation Kol Tikvah also feels the approach to youth programming should be experiential and fun.

“We want it to be hands-on and have the children involved in their education, whether it’s values, Hebrew, or holidays,” said Executive Director Jennifer Levin-Tavares.

Rabbi Boxman, dressed as King Ahasuerus, and Judy Schneider, as Professor McGonagall, retell the story of Purim at Congregation Kol Tikvah of Parkland.

They chose a Harry Potter theme for their drive-through event because they wanted something contemporary that everyone would enjoy.

“At each interactive station, families learned part of the Purim story and got a piece to take home,” said Levin-Tavares.

In the Parkland community of MiraLago, some families celebrated by creating Purim crafts in their driveway.

Children celebrate Purim by making masks in their driveway version of religious school.

During Covid, Allison Weiss and her friends have been meeting outside different homes each month to learn about the Jewish holidays.

Weiss said, “Since my daughters aren’t attending religious school, we wanted to find a way to keep Judaism alive and have them celebrate.”

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Author Profile

Jill Fox
Jill Fox
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.

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