Let’s dress up for Purim 2019! Here in Tel Aviv, the major issue surrounding this playful festival is which costume to wear! It’s a familiar concept in a girls daily life, but when it comes to Purim 2019 there is even more pressure. And what about the small kids? Which is the most popular outfit for the festival? Which will look awesome? Which will not go beyond the budget? There will be cowboys and superheroes, playboys, pirates and priests. It’s all about the image and how it will look in a selfie. Wild wigs, painted faces and the confidence to stride all costumed up in the street!
Of course, all this begins before the festival has even arrived. But aside from the creative fun, what exactly is Purim and why is it celebrated? As a child, I was taught the lessons and told stories at Hebrew school. As an adult, I am less attentive and my recall less precise, but my memory for romance and survival still remains perfectly accurate even on an overdose of Purim candy! So, here’s a quick refresher from this Sweet Tel Aviv tale teller. Told in “purrfect” your party poise!
The important part of Purim 2019 is the reading of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther). It describes how the evil prime minister and advisor Haman, under the rule of King Avashverosh, planned to exterminate all the Jews of Persia. He pronounced a “Pur” (hence the name Purim) meaning that he cast a “lot” against the Jewish people. Fortunately, this was foiled by the canny Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai. The outcome resulted in the failure of Haman’s vile plot and, fortunately, the salvation of the Persian Jews.
When the Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogue, each time the villain Haman’s name is mentioned the congregation reacts fiercely. They boo, hiss and shake rattles called groggers as an expression of disdain against this evil man (earplugs advisable!) Did you know that the Scroll of Esther is the only biblical book in which G-d’s name is not mentioned? Traditionally in the past, Purim was known as a minor festival. However, in later years, Purim was elevated to the list of major Jewish holidays due to historical importance. Yet another story about Jews surviving against all odds. It is a time-honored tradition to dress up as the characters from the Purim story. Many young ladies often become Queens at this time of year, perhaps instead of Jewish princesses? In Tel Aviv, fancy dress includes everything from witches, warlocks, ghouls, and ghosts. I am sure that this Purim 2019 there will be other unique additions to this list! The elaborate costume dressing is to commemorate how Esther initially concealed her Jewish identity at the beginning of the Purim tale.
Purim 2019 will be celebrated in glorious style in Tel Aviv. A grand happening will take place in Kikar Hamendina. Large gatherings of colorfully clothed bodies will form to listen to musical performances. Crowds will form to watch passing parades and indulge in the lively atmosphere of this happy festival. Evenings will open with events at bars and hot nightspots. Neighborhood shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes, will pay tribute to Purim. So, when you are served by a waitress wearing a pair of bunny ears, or prancing in a tutu, do make sure to give her a big tip!
As in most Jewish festivals, food plays an enormous role and Purim is no different. We are encouraged to send Mishloach Manot (food baskets) to family members, friends and those in need including the brave girls and guys in the IDF. As part of the celebration, there is always a festive meal, the Purim Se’dah. For dessert, sweet pastries known as Oznei Haman or Hamantaschen (Haman Ears) will undoubtedly be served. These are said to represent the hat and triangular ears of Haman!
It is with relief that I am able to give a Sweet ending to what could have been a not so sweet story. Happy Purim 2019!
Begins on the evening of 20th March & ends on the evening of 21st March.