Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity


On Purim we dress in costume to create a new persona. We delight in unexpected images. We poke holes in the humdrum everyday roles of men and women, rich and poor, young and old. Our assumptions about people shift, and thus, the holiday transforms us.

People often choose different costumes and personas as a strategic tool to help them stand up against injustice. In this Go & Learn guide we will focus on two remarkable Jewish women: The biblical figure, Esther, and the historical figure, Bella Abzug. Both women fought for justice and liberation, adopting personas that helped them to achieve their goals. In our featured document, Bella Abzug tells us how she decided to wear distinctive hats and gloves as a strategy for overcoming the disregard she experienced as a young female attorney fighting for justice.

Lesson plans are available for youth, family/congregation, and adult women.

This lesson includes the following:

  • Essential questions / understandings
  • Introductory essays
  • Lesson plans by age group (youth, family/congregation, and adult women)
  • Document study (Bella Abzug interview)
  • Teacher resources



  • After School and Beyond
  • Congregational Learning
  • Day Schools and Yeshivas
  • Family Engagement
  • Teen Engagement