Purim conjures up images of celebration, community, and joy. It’s a holiday that children love. Most children. But not all. Purim can present challenges for some children. A thoughtful mishloach manot (traditional gift of food) can bring tears to the eyes of a child who is severely allergic to the foods inside. Some children experience sensory overload or overstimulation from the chaos of a noisy and spirited Megillah reading. Purim celebrations can be difficult for teens and adults struggling with alcohol addiction. Here are some guidelines that can be used by individuals and synagogues. Please help by forwarding this to your friends, rabbis, and community leaders.

Megillah Reading

  • Limit the frequency and level of noise when booing Haman.
  • Learn “Boo” in American Sign Language.
  • Fidget devices: Provide fidget devices as a silent grogger so people can twirl them when Haman’s name is read.
  • Pasta groggers! The sound of pasta shaking is not as jarring as a typical grogger sound. It also has the added benefit of fulfilling the Purim mitzvah of “gifts to the poor” when donated to Jewish people in need.
  • Place bubble wrap on the floor. Kids can pop the bubble wrap by jumping, and people who use wheelchairs can roll on it to make it pop.
  • Use a green “Go” sign to start the booing and a red “Stop” sign to stop! Write the words on the signs because some people may not be able to distinguish different colors.

Communal Parties

  • Plan for those “just in case” moments when someone might need a break in the action. Designate a quiet space, one that’s accessible, where parents can bring children, and adults can go, if needed.
  • Purim Carnivals are noisy. Tone down the sound by lowering the volume of the music, and eliminate blinking lights or strobes.
  • Create a buddy system with older and younger kids who may need extra support to navigate a busy/loud environment.
  • Finger puppets can be a good alternative for individuals with sensory issues and those who do not like to wear costumes.

Food and Drinks on Purim:

  • Bake inclusively. Hamentashen and mishloach manot should ideally be labeled free of gluten, dairy, nuts, and eggs.
  • At communal events, always use signage that clearly labels what is in the foods you serve.
  • Serve alcoholic beverages in one designated location. Have one person in charge of distributing them responsibly. Provide non-alcoholic mixed drinks, sparkling cider, or grape juice as alternatives to make a l’chaim.

Purim is the most uplifting holiday on the Jewish calendar. The Jewish response to communal persecution is therapeutic joy and collective celebration. This year, let’s be sure that this joy is truly available for everyone in our community. Happy Purim!