This topic is for posting Cooking Workshop lessons, ideas, and resources for teaching about Esther.  Keep in mind that the Esther story is celebrated in the Feast of Purim.

In addition to the public lesson and ideas posted below, be sure to check out the Writing Team's "Purim: The Story of Esther" lesson set. It includes detailed Cooking Workshop, Art Workshop and Drama Workshop lesson plans (among others) and a special Purim Carnival workshop. Everyone can see the lesson summaries and Bible background. 

Original Post
Traditional Recipe for "Haman's Ears" (Hamansachen)

The explanation for the recipe recounts a later Jewish legend that the cookies are shaped to resemble Haman's triangular hat. 

A much earlier tradition was that Haman, when hung by the king for his crimes, was suspended by his ears. This probably comes from a Jewish word for "shame" or "humiliation" (it sounds similar to the Jewish word for "ears"). So Haman's "shame" was associated with Haman's "ears".

Eating Haman's ears was a way to show their victory over Haman and his evil plot to kill the Jews. 

There are several recipes depending on which region of the Diaspora you were from: some are deep fried triangles or strips covered in icing sugar; others are fruit filled pastries. 

This recipe below is easy to make, and includes a great filling. The poppyseeds in the filling were a common Jewish symbol for their strength in numbers. Much like Abraham was told his descendants would be as numerous as the stars or the grains of sand, Jews reminded each other of their great nation by using poppyseeds (the Jewish people are as numerous as the seeds in a poppy). Using poppyseeds is a statement of triumph and indestructibility. Despite Haman's plans, the Jews were not obliterated. 

Also, the Jewish word for poppyseed (mohn) sounds like the last syllable in Haman's name (Hamohn).They can be found in the baked goods, spice or bulk food section of the grocery store.

For simplicity, I prepared the poppyseed filling in advance, and cooled it in the fridge. If you have many kids, you can break the class in two and have each half work on either the dough or the filling. Remember the filling needs to cool, so that part should be done first. (or do it on the first week of rotation, freeze it, and thaw for the next week's cooking class) 

The pastry is small enough for kids to work with. Brush with a little milk if the pastry is too crumbly for little fingers to mold. 

They are tasty and not too sweet. 

Ingredients

For the mohn (poppy-seed) filling
  • 1 c. (150 g) poppy seeds
  • 3/4 c. (175 ml) milk
  • 2 tbsp.honey
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 - 6 tbsp.raisins, dates or prunes
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp.unsalted butter

For the filling, put the poppy seeds in a pan with the milk and simmer for about 15 minutes or until thick. I used a double boiler to avoid scorching. Add the honey, sugar, raisins, and butter and cook 5 minutes more. I added more than the 4 T fruit listed in the original recipe to make the filling thicker. Use your own judgement. Add the lemon zest and juice and the butter and mix well. Let it cool.

For the Dough
  • 1 3/4 c. (250 g) flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp.sugar
  • 2-3 drops vanilla extract
  • 5 oz (150 g) unsalted butter (about 1/3 pound)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tsp. milk, if necessary
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze


In a bowl, mix the flour with the salt, and sugar. Cut the butter in pieces and rub it into the flour. Mix the egg yolk and vanilla, and add to the dough. Press the dough into a soft ball. Work very briefly, adding a little milk if necessary to bind it. If you have time, wrap in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator. (not necessary)

Divide the dough into 4 for easier handling. Roll out each piece on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until it is 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Cut into 3-inch (7 1/2 cm) rounds with a pastry cutter or rim of a cup. Take the scraps, roll out again, and cut into rounds. (Another way is to take a lump of dough a bit bigger than a walnut and to flatten the dough by pressing it in the palm of your hand.)

Place the rounds on a greased baking sheet.
Put a heaping teaspoon of filling in the centre of each round. Lift up the edges and roll inwards gently to form three sides and fold up around the filling in a thick "crust". Pinch the three corners well to hold the crust in place and prevent leaking. Leave the top open so you can see the filling in the middle. 

Brush the finished pastries with beaten egg or a little milk to turn them golden in the oven. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Use a spatula to gently lift the pastries onto a cool rack or plate.

 

 


 Alternative Haman Cookie Recipe

aka Hamantaschen Cookies—about 4 dozen 2 ½ inch pastries

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup margarine
  1. Sift or mix well the three dry ingredients
  2. Mix eggs, margarine and juice.
  3. Add flour mix to egg mixture. If too sticky, add a little more flour and cover.
  4. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  5. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 ½ inch round cookie cutter.
  6. Put ½ tsp. filling (jam or chocolate chips) in center of circle.
  7. Shape into triangles by bringing two sides up to the center and pinching them and then bringing up third side and pinching it. Pinch dough well so the pastry will not open during baking.
  8.  Preheat oven to 350. Bake on greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool on rack.

Queen Esther
Cooking Workshop – ‘In a Pickle’

Summary of Lesson Activities:

In this workshop you'll be making an edible but fake hamburger. It has been suggested that ALTERNATIVELY you could actually have the kids "can" some of their own pickles! Would be a great reminder of the story.

 


Supplies List: 

  • Jar of sweet pickles,
  • dill pickles, and bread & butter pickles,
  • bag of dill pickle potato chips,
  • Nabisco Nilla Wafers,
  • Keebler Grasshopper (Fudge Mint) cookies or Girl Scout thin mint cookies,
  • frosting,
  • red food coloring,
  • green food coloring,
  • 2 bowls,
  • table knives,
  • napkins,
  • 3 forks

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture ahead of time.
  • Gather the materials.


 

Presentation

 

Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

 

Open with a prayer.

 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Read: The Story
Practice: The Memory Verse

 

  • I wonder how Esther felt moving to a new city where she didn’t know anyone? (Scared, alone, forgotten, mad, happy, ?)
  • I wonder why Mordecai didn’t want anyone to know Esther was a Jew? (Treated differently, nobody’s business, looked down on, ?)
  • I wonder why the king chose Esther to be the queen? (She was beautiful, she had a good personality, it was God’s plan, ?)
  • I wonder why Haman hated Mordecai so much? (Wouldn’t bow down to him, ? God was not with Haman, there was ‘hate’ in Haman’s heart, ?)
  • I wonder why Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman? (That show of respect was reserved for God)
  • I wonder if Queen Esther was tempted to keep the secret that she was a Jew, instead of pleading with the king for the lives of her people? (Yes, no, maybe, ?)
  • I wonder why Esther prayed before she went to see the king? (She knew she could be killed, she knew God could help her, God would have wanted it, ?)
  • I wonder why Esther asked the Jews to pray and fast for 3 days before she went to see the king? (Get the Jews involved, God hears prayers, ?)
  • I wonder what the Jews prayed for? (Safety for Esther when she went to the king unannounced, safety for the Jews on Feb 28th, overturning the law to kill the Jews, ?)
  • I wonder how the Jews felt when they found out they could defend themselves on the day Haman wanted to kill the Jews? (Joy, honor, like their prayers were answered, ?)

(‘I wonder’ questions inspired by another post here at rotation.org.

 


Queen Esther was in a “pickle.” (Or a “jam")

Bring out three jars of pickles (one dill – one sweet – one bread & butter pickles)

  • There was a law to kill all the Jews in Persia.
  • Esther was a Jew, but she was also in a position to influence the king.
  • Esther was ‘in a pickle.’ What to do? – Let it happen? Plead with the king? Run and hide?
  • Those were hard choices Esther had to make. (Before each discussion question, let the kids pick a new pickle to try)
  •  When there are hard choices to make, what do you do? (Ask for advice, think hard, look at what others have done, look deep in your heart, ?)
  • How can we seek God when we are troubled? What do you do? (Pray, read the Bible, talk to the Pastor or strong Christian friend, ?)
  •  Do you look to God when there are tough decisions to make? Always, or just sometimes?
  • God wants us to be with Him at all times – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28 – Know that God loves you always no matter what your troubles are. Don’t ever give up. God always cares about you.


“Hamburger” Making - We are going to make “hamburgers with pickles” to remind us about what a “pickle” Queen Esther was in – but it’s really a cookie.

  • Take 1 Vanilla Wafer (This is one side of the ‘bun').
  • Spread green frosting on the flat side of the Vanilla Wafer This is the ‘pickle'.
  • Next, top the Vanilla Wafer/frosting with a thin mint/cookie (This is the ‘hamburger').
  • Spread red frosting on the flat side of a second Vanilla Wafer (This is the ‘ketchup’ or ‘tomato’ and other side of the ‘bun').
  • Put the two pieces together
  •  (Could add layers – one placed on the bun, one on the hamburger – mustard, lettuce, etc)


Say a prayer before eating. (Dear Lord, Thank you for giving Queen Esther the courage to stand up for her people. Whenever we are in a pickle, help us to remember to turn to You for help. Help us to stand strong in Your love. Amen.)

  • Eat and enjoy (Each child may make 2-3 apiece, if desired)
  • If someone doesn’t like mint, they can make their sandwich without the hamburger patty

(Second Option) Substitute ‘hamburger making’ with something made with jam. Also substitute the word ‘pickle’ with ‘jam’ in the reading above.


Suggestions: Bake Pillsbury crescent rolls, jam as a topping
Refrigerator rolls, thumbprint in center, fill indent with jam - Bake.

Bringing it all together

  • Esther was used for the good of God’s people – the Jews.
  • We, too, can be used for the good of God’s people. What can we do to help people? (Pray for/with them, visit them, write to people, give money, spread God’s word,)
  • God can use us for His work on earth. We are here on earth, not to do God’s job (Judgment), but to do His work. We are not to judge people, but instead to help people.
  • God chooses ordinary people to do His work. God called Moses, he stuttered – Jonah, he ran away – Zacchaeus, was small – David, was just a boy when he fought Goliath. God can choose you, too! It doesn’t matter if you are old or young. You can do God’s work.
  • God calls us to spread His message.
  • Now, no more excuses! Get out there and speak the word of God. God can use you to your full potential. Remember, you are not the message; you are God’s messenger!


Extra time: Return to the questions on ‘hard choices.’ Think of some difficult choices and solutions.

 

Closing:

 

End with a prayer.


A lesson written by Rachel Haugland from: Elim Lutheran Church

Randall, IA

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

Esther

Cooking Workshop

Grades 3-6

Summary of Lesson Activities: 

Kids will make a "Black and White Baked Alaska" which demonstrates the lesson's metaphor: ice cream won't melt in the heat!

 

Scripture Reference:

Esther 4:12-14


Lesson Objective:
Esther heard God’s call to do a very important task. This Jewish woman spoke to the king about the impending destruction of the Jewish people. She asked the king, who had the power to kill her for approaching him, for permission for the Jews to defend themselves. Before she went to the king with this request, however, Esther prayed and fasted for three days. She also asked her uncle and other Jewish friends to pray and fast for her. It has been said that courage is fear that has said its prayers. Strengthened by God, in answer to those prayers, Esther appeared before the king.

 

To demonstrate this, the students will make Black and White Baked Alaska. The meringue protects/insulates the ice cream from the heat, and it will not melt, just as the prayers of God’s people brought protection for Esther and all the Jews of the land. During journal time, the students will focus on another aspect of Purim, (pronounced poorim) God’s command to share food with the poor. 


Teacher Preparation:

  • Read and become familiar with the book of Esther.
  • Read the Bible background provided here.
  • Find a good version of the story of Esther in a Children’s Bible to read aloud to the students.
  • Wrap a brownie in clear plastic food wrap. Decorate with ribbons or stickers.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence as you teach this story to these precious young people. 


Supplies: 

  • Journals,
  • pencils,
  • Bibles,
  • a Children’s Bible.
  • Ingredients for Baked Alaska,
  • hot pad holders,
  • a mixer,
  • a freezer
  • an oven.
  • Napkins,
  • glasses,
  • juice or water,
  • small dessert plates,
  • forks.
  • Plastic food wrap,
  • ribbons or stickers.


Recipe for Black and White Baked Alaska
Recipe adapted from The Science Book for Girls by Valerie Wyatt ISBN 1-55074-113-6 p. 29

Note: Meringue powder can be substituted for the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. If using meringue powder, follow package directions.


Note: The original recipe uses cookies instead of brownies.

Advance preparation Requirements:

  • Place individual scoops of ice cream on a cookie sheet; freeze for at least 1-2 hours. (or for several days)
  • Cut brownies into small squares, just large enough for a scoop of ice cream to fit on top. Freeze at least 1-2 hours. (or for several days)


 

Presentation

 

Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

As kids arrive:
Have them help you prepare the meringue. Whip (room temperature) egg whites with electric beater until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. 

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Welcome the students warmly. Introduce yourself to the students in the class.

Say: A word that is often used to describe the Book of Esther is “providence.” A dictionary definition is “divine guidance or care” or “God as the guide and protector of all human beings.” In other words, God was in full control of all events in the book of Esther.

 

Dig-Main Content and Reflection:

Say: In this story the king issued a decree to kill all the Jews on a certain day. A man named Mordecai, sent word of this to Queen Esther, who was also a Jew. He asked her to beg the king for mercy. The queen replied that her life would in peril if she went to the king uninvited. Mordecai replied:

“Don’t imagine that you are safer than any other Jew just because you are in the royal palace. . . . Yet who knows—maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!” Esther 4:12-14 TEV

Esther changed her mind and told her uncle Mordecai that she would go to the king and beg, even if it meant she would perish. But first she asked Mordecai to have all the Jews do something very important. She asked them to fast and pray for her for three days and three nights. Esther, too, would pray and fast. Then she went to see the king.

Say: In answer to those prayers, God brought protection to Esther and to the Jewish people. Today we will make a dessert with brownies, ice cream, and meringue, and bake it in a hot oven. This dessert demonstrates protection in an interesting way. We will see for ourselves how the meringue “protects” the ice cream from melting.

During Baking Time:

 

Ask the students to:

  1. Wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Place brownie squares on a baking sheet.
  3. Place an ice cream ball on top of brownie square.
  4. Spread meringue over the ice-cream and brownies, making sure to spread meringue evenly all the way over the edges of the brownies so the ice-cream is completely sealed.
  5. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 5-6 minutes until the meringue is delicately browned. Watch carefully!


What Happens?
The foamy egg white acts as insulation. The air bubbles whipped into it stop the heat from getting through to the ice cream. The ice cream will not melt!

 

This is the main metaphor you'll be working with.

Meal Time: 

  • While the desserts bake, work with the students to set out forks, dessert plates, napkins, and glasses of juice or water for the feast.
  • Serve the Black and White Baked Alaska.
  • Invite the students to pray “Come Lord Jesus, Be our Guest . . “
  • While the students are eating, tell the Story of Esther, or read it aloud from a Children’s Bible. This is especially important if it is the first week of the rotation, and the children are not yet familiar with the story.
  • If students are already familiar with the story, discuss how God’s divine providence was at work in the story of Esther.


Discussion Points:

(Allow the students to contribute their ideas. The following points are listed if guidance is needed.)

  • Esther came to be chosen as queen after Queen Vashti’s disobedience.
  • Mordecai “happened” to overhear some men planning a plot to murder King Xerxes. He gave this information to the king’s protectors; it was found to be true.
  • The night before Hamaan planned to ask King Xerxes if he could hang Mordecai on a gallows, the king could not sleep! He asked to have the records of his time as king read aloud to him, and heard about the failed plot. When he found out nothing had been done to thank Mordecai, he formed a plan to honor him, which undoubtedly saved Mordecai’s life.
  • Mordecai’s loyalty to the king came to light the same week he found out that he had unwittingly ordered all the Jews to be killed.

Closing:

 

End with a prayer.


 

Resources:

  • Recipe adapted from The Science Book for Girls by Valerie Wyatt ISBN 1-55074-113-6 p. 29

 

A lesson posted by Kristen from: Augustana Lutheran Church

St. James, MN

 

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

 

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