Purim in Jerusalem is an endurance event. The festivities start days in advance, and here in the capital we celebrate longer and harder than the rest of the country.
There are also magical moments: During one 30-second period on Agripas Street, there was a man in a swim suit and goggles who sprinted the length of the street while doing the breaststroke. Seconds later, a minivan dressed as an aquarium passed by, full of teenage boys in fish costumes making fishy faces at confused pedestrians. And then, the cream of the cake: an ambulance, sirens raging, cut through traffic, with the driver actually dressed as a real, live zombie.
The entire city shrugged off the heavy politics that normally surround the capital for a week-long celebration when everyone lets loose. Even in ultra-Orthodox Mea Sha’arim, the city’s most observant were freely chugging from wine bottles and passing out in the streets.
Children dressed as “Sefer Torahs,” nurses, soldiers, and various hassic sects passed out candy and elaborately wrapped treats to neighbors and cars blasted Jewish music in the streets.
The holiday passed safely across the country. Magen David Adom spokesman Zachi Heller said MDA paramedics treated dozens of people who suffered from alcohol poisoning and injuries from firecrackers. No one was seriously injured and there were no alcohol-related deaths or accidents.
As usual, young people dressed in outlandish costumes thronged through Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood throughout the afternoon and late into the night. Spontaneous drum circles formed on Nissim Bahar Street as young people danced into the streets into the wee hour.
But the exhaustion also sets in after five straight days of costumes and parties and street dancing and alcohol. Sometimes, returning to normal life is also a good idea.