Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! Purim Comes to Town
BY Lee Saunders DATE 05/03/2018
Choosing your outfit, makeup and working out where the best parties are.
Often, these questions are associated with the Oscars, but these perennial dilemmas are on the minds of children and their parents as the enchanting festival of Purim comes to towns and cities across Israel…
Often compared to Halloween, the story of Purim is set a little over 2,300 years ago and told in the Biblical Book of Esther. It celebrates the survival of the Jewish people after a plot to eradicate them by Haman, the wicked Prime Minister of then Persian King Ahasuerus. Haman had the Jewish people draw lots, or pur in Hebrew, to decide the day of their annihilation. In a story filled with heroes and heroines, twists and turns, the plot was discovered, Haman was hanged, and the genocide was eventually averted.
As a result, this day of salvation became a day of rejoicing and feasting and is embraced across Israel. Streets up and down the country burst into life, color and spray paint, as youngsters and grown-ups pose for selfies, wearing the weirdest, craziest and scariest costumes, reflecting the disguised involvement of God in the miracle of Purim. Many exchange mishloach manot, or gifts of food and wine, and everyone munches on the treats that are hamenstaschen – small triangular pastries, believed to symbolize Haman’s ears, and made with different fillings, including poppy seed, chocolate, jam and cherry.
Nowhere does the magical time-old tale give you goosebumps more than in Jerusalem. Within reach of the four Dan Hotels in Jerusalem, you can attend the main event – in the city’s Safra Square – on 2 March, just outside the captivating Old City. Here, the streets spill over with entertainment for all the family, from circus acts and costume competitions to live shows and arts and crafts workshops. You can marvel at the sheer diversity of costumes on display at the traditional Nachlaot Street Party, which takes place in this artsy neighborhood, west of the Downtown Triangle.
If you are looking for diversity in music, the more hardcore party animals make their way to nearby Sacher Park for an all-day cacophony of beats, from drum and bass to electro-Arab beats. Many of the city’s museums also get in on the act, offering quieter, family-friendly events. Join in the Purim treasure hunt and “hide and seek” in the ancient citadel that is the Tower of David Museum. The Israel Museum is honoring Purim with the unveiling a 3,000-year-old Phoenician mold created for the mass production of masks, while Bloomfield Science Museum combines science and magic to offer children a series of workshops to create their own Purim masks, with their own hands.
Some of the scariest and most inventive costumes can be seen over in Tel Aviv, and one of our favorite events for visitors is the Tel Aviv Purim Zombie Walk. This wonderful experience encourages participants of all ages to find their inner zombie and walk through the streets of Tel Aviv, doing their best to terrify locals. The Zombie invasion begins on the evening of 3 March, close to the Dizengoff Center, a hop, skip and a terrifying leap from a more luxurious and restful stay at the Dan Tel Aviv.
The energetic and festive atmosphere is the backdrop to countless street parties, among them the annual, and free, Tel Aviv Purim Street Party, a lively event in north Tel Aviv’s Kikar Medina area, and one featuring performances from leading musicians, while the Street Party in the Yemenite Quarter runs until dawn, a short walk from the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv. With it considered a good deed to drink on Purim, there are many pubs, bars and nightclubs in which to indulge yourself – among them Joy Records Purim Tel Aviv brings together more than 1,000 partygoers for an epic annual costume party at the city’s Pascal venue, while the popular Kuli Alma nightclub hosts almost a week of live bands and grand celebrations.
It may not quite be Hollywood’s Oscars, but Purim would surely win “Best Festival of the Year.” Make sure you attend.
Written by Lee Saunders