Thursday, March 12, 2009

Purim isn’t really Purim until you celebrate in Israel!

A few years ago, when the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix decided to hold a Communitywide Purim Celebration at the Ida Levine Campus of The Jewish Community Center. The idea was to bring the entire community together, and instead of local Synagogues each staging their own “Carnivals”, to have one big party. Well—It worked. For me, it worked, anyway, until I spent 48 straight hours in what I now call “The Purim Zone.”

Let’s talk about Purim for a moment: Persian King Ahashveros throws a party for all his drunk friends and asks his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti to strip for his buddies. She refuses and he sends her away in exile. In seeking a new wife to become Queen, the lovely Esther, a secular Jewess, and niece of Mordechai answers the call and has no qualms in letting her gowns fall by the wayside in the name of personal progress. (This woman is our heroine?)

Meanwhile, Haman, whose name is so villainous that we try to drown it out with moree and more noise every time his name is mentioned, plans a coup of the King and at the same time, plans to kill all of the Jews of Shushan. Mordechai gets word and alerts his niece who informs her King. Haman is hung and we (the Jewish People) dodge another bullet, sort to speak. Now we celebrate this “victory” ever y year, as it is written in the Book of Esther.

In the States, at least every State that I have lived in, Purim is really no big deal… A Shul Carnival with games like “Dunk the Rabbi”, or Ring Toss; Stale Homentaschen (three sided pastry usually filled with – poppy seed [yuck]) and lots of booze. Exactly where I would like to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. Not.

For me, this year was a tad different! Purim blew into Tel Aviv on Monday at sundown with the “Megilla of Esther” being read in every street corner Synagogue. Noisemakers of every kind, shape and sound were used to drown out the wicked name of Haman; Ladies, Gentleman and Kids of all ages gathered together to read, sing, dance and truly celebrate this monument us day. And then? THEN the party, or shall I say parties, started. Every restaurant, bar, club, hotel, street, sidewalk or open area of Real Estate in Tel Aviv greeted revelers with abandon. Loud music could be heard into the streets and adjoining residential areas around the famous Allenby/Bialik intersection, and from Hayarkon Street, fireworks could be seen off the shore as far away as Yaffo southward and Ramat Aviv to the north of the city. One would have thought that it was Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Alcohol was free flowing – and the streets were full. We started out at Kehillat Sinai, the Conservative Synagogue of Tel Aviv, and our hosts for Hannah’s Bat Mitzvah a two days prior and continued to at least five venues before turning in at five o’clock in the morning.

And the best part, was that as a Walled City, Jerusalem celebrates Purim the next day, so I could spend my final day at home, back in my favorite place on earth, and celebrate Purim all over again, with different new friends and at another home-away-from-home Synagogue, Moreshet Yisrael, located next to the Conservative Yeshivah on Agron Street, a few blocks away from the wonders of Rehov Ben Yehudah.

The drive into Jerusalem was of course, very different this time in. On the way into town two weeks ago, I was driven by Sherut (a taxi-van with other passengers) and wasn’t able to pay real attention to the views of the City as we entered. It was also beginning to darken outside, which didn’t’ help. Monday, though, around 2:00pm, I arrived at the top of the hill and stared into the most beautiful city on the face of this earth. Jerusalem of Gold was certainly living up to her name, and while cold outside, the sun was shining, just as she would, and the magical City of David sparkled under her bright rays.

Charedi Black Hatted Jews walked in small groups to and fro, and with a certain intentional brisk pace, as if to say, “Don’t Start Purim without us”, and children followed. Taxis hurried here and there and there was an electricity in the air, unfelt by me in a long time. Despite being exhausted by Monday night’s events, I was recharged, and ready to get to Moreshet by the suggested time of 6:45. The Megilla reading would start at 7:30. And did it ever. And the parties in Jerusalem on Tuesday night? Another Purim night in Jerusalem!

--Tomorrow: Leaving our home for where my stuff is...

From David’s City of Gold, I wish for you…

Ahavah u’Vrachot…
Love and Blessings…


No comments:

Post a Comment