The 11th Floor

A Perpsective Overlooking Jerusalem, Israeli Life, and Talmud Torah

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hava Narisha? Rash-Rash-Rash.

Its tempting to say “wow, look at all the crazy Purim stuff in Jerusalem! Its so zany! So wacky! You would never believe it!” But aside from the Lunar Eclipse tonight (which should reach totality some time around 1am), there’s not much going on that’s really unusual.

True, there are the fire-crackers. Unlike in other parts of the Jewish world, Purim seems to be a time when Jerusalem boys aged 11-15 are left alone to play with matches and M-80 firecrackers. You don’t need to have taught middle school to know this is a bad idea. The irregular bursts of bangs and explosions are ignored by everyone, include many police. The cops have their limits- one young pyromaniac set off a small detonation near a costume parade- he was shortly being frisked and detained in what was surely a moment of glee for his teachers.

Jerusalem is of course celebrating Purim one day later- a real “Sushan Purim” at last! This means a day off for most to shop, send mishloach manot, and try and find a costume that won’t dissolve if it gets wet (usually, it rains on purim). There are large community readings and parties, with information plastered on billboards and in the case of the Messianistic Chabaniks, screaming the info from Cars rigged with speakers.

Yes, there are carnivals and costumes in the area. It is a reminder that here Judaism is the popular/ majority culture; yet these bits of merriment do not produce the surreal sense of otherness that one gets on Yom Kippur, when major streets are flooded with white-clad residents, or when the adhan of the Mosques of Jerusalem comes flooding in at 5 a.m. It is a bit touching, actually, how even at the bakery people are into the spirit of the day, as are medical receptionists, staff at restaurants, and even security guards. Everyday people putting a bit of purim carnival sprit into their work. That’s not incredibly zany or wacky or crazy.

But it sure is fun.

Purim Sameach!


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