Freedom in Expression

This week, our building and its occupants have looked a little different. If you have been in the building or haven driven by and seen students and teachers in bright colors, creative headgear, and funky socks, please don’t be alarmed. We are just taking the month of Adar and lead-up to Purim VERY seriously. As I mentioned last week, there is a custom to increase happiness in the month of Adar and our students, teachers, and staff have risen to that occasion beautifully. In addition to different options for dress-up days this week, students have been learning Purim songs, interacting with the Purim story and its characters, and 7th and 8th graders are preparing to read Megilat Esther for next week. It has been a very festive few days and we look forward to much more!

I’m reminded this year of how important self-expression is and I have loved seeing the choices that our students (and staff!) make within the parameters of the suggested costume days. In particular, our students never seem to run out of creative ways to express themselves and this also connects to another one of the themes of Purim, hester panim, or concealing one’s face. While on Purim, this is often related to costumes and masks as well as the hidden filling of hamantaschen, it can also connect to the concealment of identity, thoughts, or dreams. While a costume may provide an opportunity to be a different version of oneself or one’s true self, they can also hide what is within. 

This week’s parasha also gives us another take on special clothing and their functions. The parasha, Tetzaveh, introduces the uniforms of the Kohanim, or priests. These uniforms are meant to be worn while performing sacrifices and rituals and while in the Mishkan and include colorful linens and yarns, a decorative breastplate, a special robe and tunic as well as a sash. 

There is an interesting comparison that can be made between a uniform which one has to wear and clothing that we wear to express ourselves. A uniform may be something that is assigned, but I happen to be a person who likes to be in uniform. Whether it is more of dress-code (I attended a New England prep school for four years, wearing a coat and tie each day) or a specific garment that goes with a job or professional responsibility, I feel very held by that structure and consistency. There is also something liberating about being able to shed those assigned requirements and express oneself in a different way. 

At the end of the day, we all express ourselves in different ways and I love that the intersection of this parasha and Purim shows us the different models for self expression through clothing. Whether you like to dress up on Purim or not, I hope that the holiday brings us all opportunities to be ourselves, to experiment with being different versions of ourselves, and to celebrate in ways that are meaningful. 

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom, and a Purim Sameach, a Joyous Purim, 


-Tani Cohen-Fraade