Letter From Jerusalem, No. 8

Letter From Jerusalem, No. 8

This week Israel will celebrate Purim, our wonderful Carnival Holiday. It reminds us of the rescue of the Jewish people from Haman, who might be called "the first Hitler," in about 435 bce. 

The children dress up as everything from Spiderman to Queen Esther, who is the heroine of the Purim story, found in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament. They begin the masquerade about two weeks before the actual day of Purim. It is a treat to see them walking through the streets with eyebrow pencil mustaches and nicely made-up eyes from Mom's make-up kit. There are plenty of ghosts and pirates, too. The little ones are completely tickled with themselves.

The grown-ups have Masquerade Balls and sometimes there are parades with big floats during the day. It is obligatory to have a festive meal and to imbibe. The Purim story is read from a scroll called a megillah and it is read in every kind of venue — in the synagogue, private homes, in restaurants and even bars both the evening before and on Purim itself.

If it wasn't true it would make a wonderful adventure movie. Believe it not, it usually rains on Purim itself, or snows, and everyone is disappointed that they can't go out and show off their costumes one last time.

I have to tell you that Purim is like April Fools Day. All kinds of crazy things are done. The newspapers even publish false first pages with articles that make fun of national figures or say that every citizen is going to get a $1,000 bonus from the Treasury.

It is a happy relief from the realities with which we live. 

If you would like to read Letter from Jerusalem #7, press here.