Basia Monka – The Purim Night Fever
Mostly non religious Israeli society is so observant, when it comes to Purim. Does really everyone wants to change his/ her ‘Pur’ – the fate? Or remember the brave young Esther who saved the Jewish nation? Or maybe the idea of giving “mishloach manot” (the food gifts, literally: to send portions/dishes) to at least two people, so everyone can celebrate the victory of the Jewish nation is so attractive? After all, it’s nice to share. But, no, sorry to disappoint you, it’s the party!
“Where are you going for the Purim party? Are there going to be some nice single guys?”, “Do you have a costume?”, “I am not sure what I am going to wear…” , “Oh, my costume was so good last year, I may repeat it.” – And no, I am not quoting teenagers, but my pretty adult friends, both sex. Few weeks before the Holiday, it’s seems to me bit too much, but what do I know…
Purim is really a big thing in Israel. Whether you are religious or not. Three years ago, packing for my life journey, taking the most important things I will need in the Promised Land, I was told by a friend to prepare the Purim costume. It sounded as an exaggeration. I didn’t take it serious, but B’’H I took at least a bird face mask. Purim was couple of weeks after my arrival. I was in Jerusalem and it was the best Purim of my life. I celebrated 19 hours out of 25! The whole city celebrated! Hearing the Meggilat Esther (the Purim story traditionally red twice during that Holiday) first in the synagogue, second, in my case – on the roof of a house in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, with drums heard from the street and view on the Western Wall, and a Chasid laughing and crying while reading the story; wind, sun, music… Unforgettable experience. And parties all night and day long: on the streets of Jerusalem, private homes, dances on the tables in the famous Jerusalem shuk Mahane Yehuda (the market); in the park – Gan Saker; a kosher hot dog at 3 AM (yes, not everywhere in the world it can happen, so one can get exited), the entire city dressed in costumes. Crazy, happy people! And Jewish carnival!
Purim in Tel Aviv, it’s a slightly different experience. After Jerusalem, definitely not enough… On the one hand it’s a working day. You can see guys dressed as sluts on the streets (by the way, have you noticed that little girls want to be princesses, boys – heroes and adult girls and boys want to be sluts? Well, maybe I‘ll write about that other time), rabbi as a Santa Claus in the synagogue, but unlike Jerusalem, it’s hard to see dressed up people in the offices. Unless, there is a ‘happy hour’ – be happy for an hour and go back to your desk.
On the other hand, in Tel Aviv, it feels like it’s just about a party, no deeper meaning included. The social media are flooded with Purim events, Purim rave, Purim Zombie Walk (not sure why very popular event), Purim fiesta, Purim on the roof, Purim on the street.. But it’s not the whole city celebration, as I experienced Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv you have to know where to go. And those events (do you know that everything nowadays is an event? I make super good cappuccino for example, my Tel Aviv friend suggested I should make cappuccino event) are not necessarily on the Purim night itself. The whole week there will be ‘something Purim’. The streets of Tel Aviv are starting to look like huge Purim wardrobe, already… And some people have a wig of a different color for each day. Just in case they meet the same people on their parties and they will be not drunk enough to be not recognized.
Yes, the most famous Purim mitzvah – the obligation of getting drunk. Some rabbis say to the edge of recognizing good and bad, some claim we must cross the line and get really drunk in order not to recognize good Mordechai and bad Haman. The second interpretation is mostly in use. Wonder why..
So go with the flow, have faith in your fate (‘Pur’), the Purim fever has just begun…But please, keep the high till the actual Purim and if you have just arrived to Israel, possibly, go celebrate in Tel Aviv and the next day in Jerusalem, to have the whole thing. Or Tiberias, I have just learnt they celebrate two days, there! By the halacha, the Jewish law of the Jewish nation, that Esther had risked her life for. Then why not – ‘lama lo’? – as they say here..
Basia Monka: By education psychologist. In Poland journalist, assistant director, the Jewish educator; in Israel: a travel agent in the past and the searcher of unnown in the future. Always – passioned about culture and traveling.
Photos by Basia Monka