With Purim fast approaching-Thursday/Friday of this week, if you are hosting seuda I imagine you have either organised your menu or will be busy planning it over the next few days.
The seuda is definitely about the food-you need challot, there is an idea of eating meat, and people get super creative with themes to match their costumes. Whilst I am certainly thinking about the cuisine, I find that I prefer thinking up games and ideas to make the Purim seuda more interactive, educational — I am a teacher! — and inclusive of all the guests present. I want to share some of these with you to enhance your own Purim seuda. You don’t need to use all of them- or any of them – but you may find that you need some prompts or props to encourage involvement and participation from those present.
From the start
Quizzes, plays or puppet shows require little preparation and are usually enjoyable.
However even before the seuda begins there is a great way to start the proceedings- place cards. Each card has an anagram, hint or a few words from the Megilla that include or refer to the guest’s name. I love the fact that it sets the tone of the seuda and gets people into the Purim mode as soon as they enter and have to find their seat. Some are easier than others- “Ish Y’mini ” for a Benjamin and “Hadassa hee Esther” for a Hadas. Others can be more challenging to think up-not to mention for the guests to guess -for example, “Sheva v’esrim U’meah medina” for a Sarah. This is a reference to the midrash linking the 127 provinces Esther ruled to the years that Sara lived.
It is also a great way for your guests to meet and introduce themselves to each other-and a good way to get to know people’s second names if their first names are too tricky to connect to the Megilla!
One of my favourite games is to have cards prepared with pictures and to bring them out one at a time to see who can be creative and find a connection to Purim. The main idea is not to necessarily offer the correct answer but to give everyone a chance to contribute-no matter the extent of their knowledge of Purim and Megillat Esther. So one card shows the illustration of a fish, which is the mazal (symbol) of the Hebrew month of Adar. However, since all ideas are welcomed and encouraged-who knows maybe Achashverosh served fish at his feast or Vashti at hers?!
An alternative way to play this game is with a bag or box of objects. Ask guests, especially children who may be too young to know much about Purim, to select an object to present to the table. A toy horse could represent the horse on which Haman led Mordechai, or the horses on which messengers travelled to deliver Mordechai’s letters, or could even be a reference to the midrash that Achashverosh was once a stable boy.
Another great idea is a bidding game. Name a topic, such as feasts and banquets, then offer your bid- “I bet I can find three feasts in the Megilla.” Your neighbour will raise that offer to four, and when your great uncle bids six you can challenge him to name them! This works with all sorts of topics such as trees, jewellery, letters sent out, or how many times specific characters like Zeresh appear.
Finally, there is a halacha to start learning the laws of Pesach thirty days before the festival of Pesach begins-which is Purim. It could be introduced into one of the previous games, such as in the connections game by including matzah in your bag, or in the bidding game by asking how many references to Seder Night can be found in the Megillah. (For example, the word karpas and the references to wine, as well as the fact that the entire Jewish people fasted on Seder night!)
Most importantly, use your imagination and tailor it to the crowd. Have fun, be inspired and adopt these ideas to enhance your seuda and create a more interactive and educational experience.
Remember to let me know which ideas worked best for you!