Although it is now well after the fact, I wanted to put up at least something about Purim. Truth be told, it felt a lot like in Chicago – only more so. In West Rogers Park, especially since Purim is usually on a weekday, even the minority of Jews in the neighborhood can make it feel full of costumes and revelry. So it wasn’t such a big change to have the Rova teeming with costumed, mishloach–manos-toting revelers.
Speaking of mishloach manos (a.k.a. “shalach manos“), it was much less hectic this year. Baruch Hashem, we have lots of friends in Chicago, which means preparing and delivering a lot of shalach manos. It can be pretty tight, fitting in hearing Megillas Esther in the morning, getting the shalach manos delivered, davening mincha, eating the Purim meal, and fulfilling the mitzvah of “ad shelo yada” (drinking enough that you don’t know the difference between “blessed is Mordechai” and “cursed is Haman”), all before sunset.
Having been here just a few months, we had considerably fewer shalach manos to worry about, and could focus instead on ad shelo yada. Through the magic of the Internet, we did send a few to people back in Chicago (er, if you weren’t one of them… I’m sure it was a computer error!). A couple of thoughtful friends even sent us some serious booty here, which was very touching.
One big difference was that, being in Jerusalem, we observed Shushan Purim. Okay, that one doesn’t actually feel like much of a difference, as it turns out, except that you celebrate Purim the day after seeing all the Facebook posts from your friends… just as Mordechai and Esther intended.
Oh, something else that’s different about Israeli Purim – fireworks. It is part of the overall fixation of Israeli youth on incendiaries, and the lax attitude of the adults to the activity. Kids were throwing “poppers” for weeks before and after, and fireworks-related injuries are common in Israel this time of year. Yitzi reported that some boys at his school were reprimanded by the principal because they made a big fire for Purim. Needless to say, we’re dreading Lag B’omer.
The “Purim season” really begins with the first day of the month of Adar. The Babylonian Talmud instructs, “mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha” (“When Adar enters, increase [one’s] joy”) (Ta’anis 29a). You put up happy signs on the door or in the house, and start getting into the Purim spirit. Shalom’s class all dressed up as wine casks. Debbie saw them all tottering out of their classroom, and was nearly overcome by the cuteness.
We had a very satisfying Purim. The yeshiva’s shpiel (show of Purim skits & videos) was held on motzei Shabbos, “regular” Purim. (The quality of the videos stunned me. Not only were they of virtually professional quality, but they were actually funny – a real rarity.) On Shushan Purim, we heard Megillas Esther at the yeshiva, evening and morning (both Yitzi & Shalom were able to sit through it – a milestone!), delivered our handful of shalach manos, received our modest rake of same, and had plenty of time to make our way leisurely to the group meal on Har Tzion, next door to the purported Tomb of King David. I did not shlep either of my traditional Purim costumes to Israel – my ape suit that scares away the kids, or my purple suit that scares away my wife – so we had to come up with something new. In keeping with our minimalist (read: “lazy”) approach to our stay here, I picked up a sea captain’s hat, put on a blue blazer, made Debbie a name tag that said “טנאיל,” and hummed “Muskrat Love” through the Rova. We never did find anyone both old and American enough to get it, alas.
The meal was among some of the families of the yeshiva who live in the Rova, and was an enjoyable, laid-back affair with lots of wine and booze (only 30 days to get rid of chametz before Pesach!), and more food than we could eat. Oh, yeah, and fireworks.
Har Tzion is kind of a weird place. The Diaspora Yeshiva is there, along with the aforementioned asserted Tomb of King David. But there’s some sort of odd, hippy vibe on Har Tzion that I can’t quite describe or explain. Anyway, we had various randoms wander into our meal and ask for wine and food, which we supplied. I kept waiting for them to ask for a “miracle ticket.”
I’ll sign off with a video snippet from the raffle that concluded the Purim carnival at Yitzi’s school, held in the square near our apartment (Kikar Batei Machase). Warning: contains zany jeep noises.