Yesterday, we landed in Tel Aviv. I found out just a few days before my trip that this weekend was the weekend of Purim – we couldn’t have timed it any better!
In my last blog, I wrote about why I think that Jerusalem is the best city in the world for ‘templeseeking‘. But, other than the holy sites of three major world religions, I really knew nothing at all about Israeli culture. Purim was an amazingly exciting surprise! Here’s my introduction to spending the most joyous Jewish festival in Tel Aviv.
Arriving at our Air BnB
Sharon Cracknell and I are staying in an amazing Air BnB on Dizengoff Street, near to where everything is happening. Our host, Val, is an amazingly kind and hospitable man. He’s a secular Israeli who speaks perfect English with an American accent and was the second person in the history of Israel to be let off national service as a conscientious objector. Val also has a beautiful one-eyed dog called Masha.
Purim in Tel Aviv
What I knew about Purim was that it was a celebration of the book of Esther and included a Synagogue service. What I did not know about Purim was that it turned Tel Aviv into what appeared to be an offshoot of the Rio carnival!
What does Purim Celebrate?
Jews read the Megillah (scroll) of Esther in Hebrew during Purim. Esther is the heroine Queen, who saved the Jewish people of the Persian Empire from evil King Haman’s attempt to annihilate them. Every year, Jews now celebrate Purim to celebrate the anniversary of the Jewish people’s victory over their enemies.
For more on the Book of Esther, go to https://www.chabad.org.
Purim in Israel Today
Jewish people celebrate Purim today by giving a Mishloach Manot (Purim Basket) containing wine or ‘Manos (ready to eat food) to at least one friend during Purim, although many give to more. They also give gifts to two poor people, the equivalent of at least one meal.
Tel Aviv during Purim is an exciting Jewish holiday in which the costumes and dressing up seems to have escalated from children dressed up as Queens to the adults of the city venturing out in Cosplay, fancy dress and cross-dressers!
There is much drinking occurring throughout, as one is requried to drink on Purim “until he does not know the difference between arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai”! (https://www.hidabrut.com/) And let me tell you that we did just that!
Even the dogs of Tel Aviv dress up for Purim!
I feel privilaged to have been in Israel for one of the most joyous holidays of the Jewish calendar.
If you ever get the chance, go to Tel Aviv during Purim – it’s amazing. You can then travel to Jerusalem on Monday and continue the party there. In 2018 will be taking place on 1st March.