Store sells costumes for Purim.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israelis will be flocking to a host of Purim events and celebrations over the next two days, as the country gets ready to make merry during the famously jovial holiday.
The Tzohar rabbinical association of religious-Zionist rabbis will be hosting tens of thousands of Israelis around the country at festive readings of the megila, the Book of Esther, to celebrate the festival.
This year, the organization is increasing its efforts to stage megila readings in old age homes so as to bring the festivities to those who often miss out on the Purim atmosphere and experience.
Some 58,000 participants are expected at the Tzohar events around the country, including theatrical readings of the megila.
Everyone in attendance will be provided with a customized Tzohar Megilat Esther with the traditional text, plus explanations of the different customs of the holiday.
The Women of the Wall organization will be holding a prayer service and megila reading at the Western Wall on Friday morning, Shushan Purim, which is celebrated in Jerusalem the day after the rest of the country.
“Religious and secular women, young and old, mothers and daughters, all are invited,” said WOW.
The Bnei Akiva religious-Zionist youth movement will be holding two main parties in Tel Aviv, one on Wednesday night at the Zeitlin school in the city aimed at a younger audience, and one on Thursday afternoon at the Tel Aviv Great Synagogue where the organization is expecting up to 1,000 partiers.
There will be one significant change of Purim custom, however.
Alcohol will deliberately not be available at the Bnei Akiva parties, something out of keeping with many of the holiday’s revelries, at which it is a custom to get drunk “until one cannot distinguish between cursed Haman and blessed Mordechai,” as the Talmud states.
This rabbinic edict is the frequent cause of Purim inebriation, but Danny Hirschberg, the secretary-general of Bnei Akiva in Israel, says the alcohol- fueled parties are unnecessary to the enjoyment of the holiday.
“Unfortunately, the plague of alcohol consumption hasn’t skipped over the youth in our sector either,” said Hirschberg.
“It is our obligation as educators to explain the significance, the danger and the personal responsibility of all youths, and to create appropriate alternatives for them against other enticements.”
Meanwhile, the Havruta – Religious Gays group, along with several LGBT organizations in Jerusalem, will be holding on Thursday a range of activities at the First Station complex, which will be open to the entire public, including a Purim market, an exchange of traditional holiday gift packages, as well as lectures and discussion panels.
“While in previous years we have held special events for the LGBT community, this year it is our goal to open it to all Jerusalemites out of a belief that there is a need to break down barriers and obstacles between the city’s different populations, to work and to create together publicly, respectfully and in a dignified way,” the group said.