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Purim, one of Judaism's more colorful and popular holidays, is celebrated this year between sunset on Wednesday, 28 February, and sunset on Thursday, 1 March, in most of Israel – excluding Jerusalem where Purim will be celebrated from sunset on Thursday, 1 March, until sunset on Friday, 2 March (see below). Purim is not a public holiday in Israel, but many offices, shops, and public institutions (including the GPO) will operate on a reduced basis. Schools will be closed, but public transportation will operate as usual, and newspapers will be published.

Background to Purim

Purim commemorates the events described in the Book of Esther. In Esther 3:8, the anti-Semitic Haman, Grand Vizier of the Persian Empire, tells Persian King Ahasuerus that, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among all the peoples... in your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every people, neither do they keep the king's laws. Therefore, it does the king no profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed...” Thus, Haman coined one of the most infamous anti-Semitic canards: That the Jews are a clannish and alien people who do not obey the laws of the land. At Haman's contrivance, a decree is then issued for all Jews in the Persian Empire to be massacred. But, as the Book of Esther subsequently relates, Haman’s plot was foiled and, “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor...a feast and a good day.” (8:16-17)

Throughout the centuries, Purim – which celebrates the miraculous salvation of the Jews and the thwarting of Haman’s genocidal plot – has traditionally symbolized the victory of the Jewish people over antisemitic tyranny. As such, Purim is a happy, carnival-like holiday.

The Fast of Esther

The day before Purim (Wednesday, 28 February this year) is a fast day known as the Fast of Esther, commemorating (inter alia) the fact that Queen Esther – the heroine of the Book of Esther – and the entire Persian Jewish community fasted (4:16) in advance of Queen Esther’s appeal for King Ahasuerus not to implement Haman’s genocidal plot. The fast will extend from before sunrise in the morning until sunset. Special prayers and scriptural readings are inserted into the synagogue service.

When the day before Purim falls on Shabbat, as it did last year, the Fast of Esther is brought forward to the preceding Thursday.

Purim

After sunset on Wednesday evening, 28 February, festive prayers will take place in synagogues, where the Book of Esther will also be read aloud. It is customary for people, especially children, to come to synagogue dressed in costume. During the reading of the Book of Esther, whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, congregants traditionally make as much noise as possible in order to drown out his name – a reflection of God’s promise (Exodus 17:14) to, “blot out,” the Amalekite nation, of which Haman was a descendant; special Purim noisemakers may be used for this purpose. The Book of Esther will be read again during morning prayers on Thursday, 1 March. A special Purim prayer is inserted into the daily prayers and the blessing after meals.

On Purim, Jews are enjoined by the Book of Esther (9:22) to send gifts of food to each other, make special contributions to the poor, and have a festive holiday meal in the afternoon. To this end, the day is also marked by collections for various charities, and by people visiting neighbors and friends to deliver baskets of food, prominent among which are small, three-cornered, fruit-filled pastries known as Oznei Haman in Hebrew (Haman’s ears) orHamantaschen in Yiddish (Haman’s pockets).

At the festive meal, some maintain the custom of becoming so inebriated that they cannot distinguish between, “Blessed is Mordechai,” (Esther’s uncle and the hero of the Book of Esther) and, “Cursed is Haman.”

Shushan Purim

In Jerusalem, Purim is ordinarily celebrated one day later than it is in the rest of the world; accordingly, all Purim-related observances are postponed by one day. This practice originates from the fact that an extra day was prescribed for the Jews of Shushan (the modern Susa, one of the Persian Empire's four capitals) to defend themselves against their enemies. This second day is known as Shushan Purim. As mentioned in the Book of Esther itself (9:16-19), Jews living in walled cities (later defined by rabbinical authorities to mean walled cities at the time that Joshua entered the Land of Israel) celebrate Purim one day later than Jews living in unwalled cities. There are several other such cities in Israel where Shushan Purim is celebrated. In some cities whose status is in doubt, the Book of Esther will actually be read on both days.

In many places in Israel, Purim is marked by special parades; the most famous of these takes place in Tel Aviv. Many kindergartens, schools, synagogues, and towns will also host special Purim parties and carnivals.

Purim in Film

Following are clips from six films (courtesy of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive) that depict the various ways in which Purim has been celebrated:

Adloyada 1960 – Color scenes of the colorful procession in Tel Aviv 55 years ago.

Faces of Freedom (1960) – New immigrants are absorbed into Israeli society at the beginning of the 1960s. The film begins with a Purim carnival.

Springtime in Palestine (1928) - Comprehensive survey of the developing country in the 1920s. Includes a Bukharian Purim feast and scenes of the 1928 carnival in which Baruch Agadati appears with Tzipporah Tzabari, the first Purim queen of Tel Aviv (from 11:33 min).

Eretz Yisrael: Building Up the Jewish National Home (1934) – The film begins with scenes of the Adloyada in Tel Aviv. It continues with agricultural scenes in Kibbutz Ein Harod, Deganya A and the women’s agricultural school in Nahalal.

Edge of the West (1961) – A color film surveying Jewish life in Morocco in the early 1960s, including Purim celebrations (from 28:35 min.)

Hassidic Music (1994) – From the series “A People and Its Music” which depicts various Jewish music traditions. Includes scenes of Lubavitch Hassidim celebrating Purim (from 23:22 min.)

Purim Events in Jerusalem

https://www.jerusalem.muni.il/en/Visitors/Pages/Default.aspx

Purim Events in Tel Aviv

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, along with its many cultural institutions and partners, invites the general public to celebrate the Purim holiday throughout the city. A variety of performances, street carnivals and workshops will be held, catering to every possible age and interest.

Tel Aviv-Yafo is known for its vibrant and celebratory Purim atmosphere, and looks forward to creating it again this year for the many thousands of residents and visitors that come to the city to celebrate the holiday.

A curated selection of events is listed below, but a directory including many more can be found on the Municipality website (in Hebrew).

Purim Street Party

Friday, March 2 from 11:00-17:00

Kikar Hamedina, Tel Aviv-Yafo

The Purim Street Party is held annually by the Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality at Kikar Hamedina, in the North of the city. The 2017 event attracted over 100,000 people who came dressed in costumes to enjoy quality electronic music in a happening and positive atmosphere, and a similar turnout is expected this year. Leading DJs in the Tel Aviv music scene will play on a 360 degree stage erected in the center of the square, including performances by Muki and Subliminal.

An urban street show will also be held in the square, featuring a variety of merchandise for purchase. There will be an emphasis on ecologically friendly or recycled products, street culture and urban design.

The event is open to the general public at no charge, and will not be held in the case of rain.

Yafo Purim Carnival

Thursday, March 1 from 15:00-19:00

Davidoff Park, Ed Koch 10, Tel Aviv-Yafo

This Purim carnival held at Davidoff Park will feature a variety of family friendly attractions, including a mini amusement park with inflatable structures, fair stands and games, balloon-making, and circus and juggling workshops.

The event will also feature a bilingual stage show by the Almaina Theatre and performances by singer Adi Beatty and children’s performer Roy Boy.

The event is open to the general public at no charge.

 

Purim at "Hatachana" Tel Aviv's Old Railway Station

Thursday, March 1 and Saturday, March 3, various times

HaTachana - David Remez 4, Tel Aviv-Yafo

A variety of family friendly entertainment will be held at HaTachana (also known as The First Station,) Tel Aviv’s old railway station. Festivities begin at 10:30 am and include games, art activities and workshops for all ages. Entertainment will include an interactive magic show by Shai the Magician, a performance by the Neve Tzedek Community Center hip-hop band and “Miri Teshiri”, an inspiring musical adventure with a moral message.

The event is open to the general public at no charge.

Purim at the Opera House

Thursday, March 1 - Saturday, March 3, various times

28 Leonardo da Vinci, Tel Aviv-Yafo

The Tel Aviv Opera House will stage several children's shows during the Purim weekend as part of the Yaron festival. “Alice in Wonderland” will be featured, along with “What about the deer?”, a musical fantasy based on some of the most beloved Israeli songs of all time.

The shows are appropriate for ages 4 and up, and tickets can be purchased for 65 NIS at the Opera website: http://www.israel-opera.co.il/

70s Disco Party in Givon Square

Saturday, March 3 at 12:00

Givon Square, Tel Aviv-Yafo

A Purim party for parents and children who share a love of dancing. Families are invited to Givon square to let loose and jam to some throwback tunes together.

The event is open to the general public at no charge.

Purim Adventures at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

February 28 from 10:00-13:00

24 King Shaul Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo

This Purim, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is hosting a schedule of art workshops for kids. A variety of different mediums will be explored, including self-portrait, landscape painting and mask making. The activities are suggested for ages 7-12.

In addition, entrance to the new “Soft Worlds” exhibition will be free for children up to the age of 18. The exhibition is an tactile exploration of soft material in sculpture, and visitors are invited to touch, squeeze and interact with the pieces on display.

Tickets are available at the museum or by phone: 03-6077020

Purim Salsa Party

February 26 from 20:00-23:00

69 Shlomo Ibn Gabirol, Tel Aviv-Yafo

This free event held at the Tel Aviv Municipality Building is a wonderful opportunity for dancers of every level to meet and celebrate Purim in a unique way. The first hour of the event will feature group salsa lessons led by volunteer organization Media Noche Tel Aviv/Menta. A salsa dance party will start at 21:00, giving participants an opportunity to show off their new skills.

The event is open to the general public at no charge.
https://www.facebook.com/events/555437191485224/

 

Photo Ministry of Tourism