Purim: Customs and Values

Unit on values related to Purim and how they relate to the customs of this holiday

Unit Ages: 12-14 | 2-3 lessons


There are four main Purim customs that are mentioned or hinted at in the megillah: reading the megillah, mishloach manot, gifts for the poor and festive meals that involve drinking. There are several ideas that link these customs to one another and, fundamentally, they represent the mutual responsibility among the members of the nation. In this unit, we will learn about these customs, as well as problems that can arise from the custom of having parties that involve drinking wine.

Desired Outcomes

Big Ideas

The Purim customs described in the megillah symbolize the value of mutual responsibility and link the story with the holiday.

Essential Questions
  • How are symbols used in celebrations and holidays?
  • How am I an important part of my community?
  • How do I grow as a result of the Jewish calendrical cycle?

The students will be familiar with the four main Purim customs: reading the megillah, mishloach manot, gifts for the poor and festive meals that include drinking.


The students will be able to identify how the value of mutual responsibility is expressed in the different Purim customs.

Assessment Evidence

What evidence will students provide to demonstrate that they:
Know the knowledge; Can do the skills; Can respond thoughtfully to the EQs and BIs

The teacher will determine a means for assessment before beginning to teach the curriculum module.

Learning Experiences

Teaching Tools
Possible Unit Plan

You can show the students this slide, which includes four pictures that represent four Purim customs and ask them what the connection is between the four pictures. These four Purim mitzvot are all mentioned in the megillah and, in Hebrew, they all begin with the letter Mem. Therefore, they are referred to as “the four Memim.” Explain that you will explore which values can be learned from these Purim customs.


Content study:

  • In Hebrew, the holiday meal is called a “mishte” which is based on the word “shtiya” – drinking.
    Learn about the different aspects of this custom in the resource “Until We Can’t Distinguish” – The Limits of Joy and discuss the importance of joy, as well as the problematic nature and inherent risks of drinking.
  • You can go on to discuss another later custom that is not mentioned in the megillah, but has become very widespread: costumes. The resource Hidden and Revealed – Central Motifs of Purim addresses the connection between costumes and the Purim story, over the course of which many things are hidden and many things are revealed.


Unit closing / assessment:

Check how well the learning helped the students to answer the Essential Questions. You can make a Basket of Values such as caring for others, involvement, concern for the weak, community, joy, boundaries, exposing the truth, etc. On the board, make a list of Purim customs. Have the students pick values from the basket. Ask them to pick a custom from the board that corresponds to the value that they picked from the basket and to explain their choice.