Where to celebrate Purim around Seattle

 

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“On this Purim weekend (March 10-12) Jewish families all over the Seattle area will dress up in costumes, make traditional treats, read from the Megillah (the story of Esther) and watch a funny and interactive shpiel (play) that tells the holiday’s origin story. The lively events are open to anyone and provide a fun opportunity for kids to celebrate and learn about Jewish history and culture.

Although there are many variations on the Purim story, the basics are as follows: Esther was a Jewish woman in ancient Persia raised by her Uncle Mordecai. The villain of the story is Haman, an adviser to King Ahasuerus who has a wicked plan to kill all of the Jews. Esther conceals her Jewish identity and is chosen by the King to be his new Queen. With Mordecai’s encouragement, Esther bravely reveals to the King that she is Jewish and asks him to save her people from Haman’s evil plot. The King respects Esther’s wishes and the Jews are saved.” 

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Daniel Pak’s Mission to Share Music

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“Growing up on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Daniel Pak knew that music was in his blood. His father was a jazz pianist and taught him to play scales around age 6. In a few years, he had advanced to performing pieces by Mozart and Beethoven. But it wasn’t until he taught himself acoustic guitar at 13 that his passion was truly ignited. “That’s when I really found that music was more than just lessons. Music was something that would be with me every day,” says Pak.

Pak has fond memories of kanikapila, impromptu music jam sessions with friends. “We’d all go to the beach. Someone would bring ukuleles and guitars, someone would bring bongos. We’d play music and listen to the waves coming in and the palm trees rustling,” says Pak.  Today — minus the beach, palm trees and crashing waves — Pak tries to “perpetuate that tradition here in Seattle.” 

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Christmas Otter delivers mischievous cheer

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“While Rudolph guides the sleigh and Santa slides down the chimney in other households, an unusual visitor makes mischief at the Finks’ house. 

But that wasn’t always so. 

In the past, Marian and her wife, Shane, along with their daughter, Asa, traveled to the East Coast to celebrate Christmas with extended family. Because of work obligations, they were flying into New Jersey on Christmas Eve just in time for a seven-course dinner. 

“It’s a massive feast that goes on till midnight,” says Marian. “The menu changes, but there’s always lobster, clams, shrimp and lasagna.”

Two years ago, the couple had a second daughter, Maeve. Shortly after, they decided to opt out of the hectic holiday travel that year and celebrate at home in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Without all the magic and hullabaloo of the caravan back East, the Finks wanted to create a special tradition just for their family of four to share at home. 

Shane had an idea. Growing up, she’d always had a special relationship with stuffed animals and — for better or worse — continued to amass a substantial collection of them into adulthood.”

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A season (and lifetime) of giving

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The Thurman Family. Photo: Joshua Huston

“Joy Thurman might just be the busiest woman in Seattle this holiday season. 

Joy is a fourth-year medical student at University of Washington, a mother of a 3½-year-old daughter and expecting a new baby any second (if she or he hasn’t already arrived). When she’s not hitting the books or working at Harborview, she volunteers at the White Center food bank with her father, her husband, and daughter Andersyn. 

“I always get the most out of the work I don’t get paid for,” says Joy. When Andersyn was old enough to stand and hold things on her own, she joined her mom at the food bank, standing up on milk crates to give out cans. 

“She loves going to the food bank, and everyone always really enjoys having her there,” says Joy. The family volunteers year-round, including the holiday season. 

Born and raised in South Seattle, she met her husband, Nic, a neonatal intensive-care unit nurse, while attending Western Washington University in Bellingham. The couple celebrates Christmas in the culinary traditions of their blended family. Thurman is half African American, half Filipino, and her husband is Vietnamese American.”

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

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Adam Wenzel. Photo: Joshua Huston

We can all conjure an image of a bully, drawing from TV shows and movies like Back to the Future, Mean Girls and A Christmas Story (poor Ralphie!). But the truth is, bullying is not a normal, inevitable part of childhood. It’s a serious deviation. Gone are the days of dismissing repeated, aggressive behavior among school-aged children as merely kids being kids. 

Decades of research have taught us that children who are bullied — as well as those who inflict the bullying — often suffer anxiety, depression, poor academic performance and physical ailments, and are at a higher risk for substance abuse and a wide range of other health problems in adulthood.

Committee for Children, a Seattle nonprofit, is working to prevent bullying through a social-emotional learning program being taught to 80,000 Puget Sound-area students at 130 schools. 

‘It’s not just about making kids better, it’s about working with adults and an entire community to create a climate where bullying is not the norm, not tolerated, not OK,’ says Mia Doces, director of the New Mission Ventures program at the committee. 

No parent wants to discover that their child is getting pelted in the head every day on their morning bus ride or eating lunch in the bathroom to avoid taunting in the cafeteria. But if you don’t ask, you may never know. Many kids either don’t recognize that it’s a problem they should report, or they feel too ashamed to tell someone they trust.” 

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Gabriel Rapier Champions Futsal for All

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Gabriel Rapier. Photo: Joshua Huston

“Gabriel Rapier could really use a roof. Nothing fancy, just a simple shelter so the kids he coaches in Seattle’s Central District can come play at Judkins Park, rain or shine. He swears they only need it for the rain, but watching the kids guzzle water on a sweltering summer day, it was clear they could use it for the shine, too.

But Rapier won’t let a little inclement weather stop him from making positive change in his community. He’s resourceful. Recognizing a need for an affordable alternative to expensive youth premier soccer leagues, he co-founded Puget Sound Futsal 10 years ago. Futsal is a sport similar to street soccer, but with a heavier ball on an enclosed hardtop. It can be played indoors or outdoors, and has short, narrow goals and five players per side.”

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The Case for Buying School Lunches

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Cathy Walls-Thompson. Photo: Joshua Huston

Since Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010, the nutritional quality of school lunches has improved dramatically. The act established science-based nutrition standards for all food sold and marketed in schools, increased access to healthy food for children from low-income households and helped communities create local farm-to-school networks.

Lunchroom manager Cathy Walls-Thompson has witnessed the benefits of the act firsthand in the kids she serves at Hawthorne Elementary in Southeast Seattle’s Columbia City. The children have started choosing locally grown fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains instead of French fries or tater tots. 

“I encourage kids to just try it, and see what happens,” says Walls-Thompson. “Parents tell me all the time, ‘I’ll be doggone — my kids are eating salad now because of you!’” She adds that she’s lost 165 pounds by following the new guidelines.” 

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