Purim Memories from Israel

14 Mar

Orna as a child dressed up for Purim

Being asked to tell you how Purim is celebrated in Israel brought  back  some of the happiest times of my childhood. I still have memories of how  I couldn’t wait for the holiday to arrive.  Weeks before the festivities,  my classmates and I would talk about  little else.  The anticipation was almost unbearable with  enthusiasm and wild imagination as to which costume we would choose.  In the late 70’s, the most popular costumes were a hippie and a cowboy.

Our teachers, of course, had stimulated this wonderful atmosphere by teaching us the story of Purim prior to the holiday as prescribed by the Israeli school system. Our families were asked to prepare OZNAI HAMAN (hamantaschen- a sweet pastry filled with  poppy seeds)  which we brought to school and consumed with great delight.  We were busy preparing RA-SHANIM (noise makers) in the art classes and twirled them while walking in the street parade.  Purim songs were heard all over the street.  You can hear some of these songs here.

As I got older I also celebrated Purim with the ADLOYADA (Purim Carnival).  And, how great was that;   AD DE-LO-YADA, translated, means “until one no longer knows.”  According to the rabbis, participants should celebrate on Purim until they no longer know the difference between  “blessed be Mordecai” and “cursed be Haman”.  I still recall with awe the beautiful processions of carnival floats which, by the way, parade down the streets of major Israeli towns to this day.  And night clubs up and down the country chalk Purim up as their biggest night of the year.

Any Israeli will tell you that Purim is embraced by the entire country with tremendous joy and pride. Religious Jews in Jerusalem as well as secular Jews in Tel Aviv celebrate far beyond its original religious roots.  Purim in Israel truly is a fascinating time to be in the country.  As for myself, I treasure my Purim memories and the warmth and joy  that they have imbedded in my heart.

We at the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee wish you CHAG PURIM SAMEACH – HAPPY PURIM.

Orna Nissan is the Director of Holocaust Education & Israel Programs at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.


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