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Not the Esther You Know From Hebrew School

Thursday, 27 February, 2020 2 Adar 5780

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM47 Glenbrook Avenue

Esther’s Own Tale: Not the Esther You Know From Hebrew School
With Seymour (Epi) Epstein

The Esther Scroll: The Author's Tale attempts to uncover the original intent of the author, a story quite different than the one read into the text by later rabbinic interpretation. It is the later interpretation, which made of Purim what it is, the strangest holiday in the Hebrew calendar. The first is a warning by means of satire that Jews must live in their own land and under the kingship of God, while the later reading is a victory story attempting to negotiate how Jews can survive as minorities in Diasporas ruled by others. Both are valid readings, but each one is a product of its own times. Together we’ll explore the possibility that the anonymous author of Megilat Esther had in mind a thematic message quite different than the meaning and message given to the story by the rabbis.

Dr. Epstein has been active in every aspect of Jewish education, formal and informal. He worked at United Synagogue Day School in Toronto and helped to found an experimental high school there in 1971. From 1973 to 1978 he was an assistant professor at McGill University where he directed the Jewish Teacher Training Program of Montreal. He was actively involved in Camp Ramah and directed the Canadian Ramah for three summers.

In 1981 Dr. Epstein moved to Morocco to become the educational consultant for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Casablanca. During his eighteen years of JDC work, he was active in Morocco, Western Europe, and the Former Soviet Union. He served the JDC as Director of Jewish Education and was responsible for community development in Siberia, Russia.

For the ten years from 1999 to 2009 Epi was the director of Toronto’s Board of Jewish Education at UJA Federation. In 2009 his first book, From Couscous to Kasha: Reporting From the Field of Jewish Community Work, was published by Urim Publications. The Esther Scroll: The Author's Tale was published by Mosaic Press in 2019.

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Wed, 27 May 2020 4 Sivan 5780