The whole megilla

At the Int'l Convention Center, Purim party-goers will hear the traditional reading and then Boogie their way through the night.

For the last 14 years anyone in Jerusalem – and, indeed, from farther afield – looking to shake a leg or two has been able join in the fun and games at the weekly Boogie event, which started out at the Gerard Behar Center and for the past seven years has been held at the International Cultural and Community Center in the German Colony. On Sunday, the weekly Boogie shindig takes a great incremental leap into the big league with a Purim program at the International Conference Center.
Sunday’s all-nighter, which starts around 7 p.m., covers a wide spectrum of entertainment offerings and traditional Purim-related items, including a megilla reading, a fancy dress party, DJs, open mic, a flamenco spot and a couple of high-energy bands – Marche Dondurma and Matbouha Project – patently designed to keep the patrons up and, yes, boogying until the sun duly rises over the Old City.
But for Boogie founder Avi Edri, the event means far more than just letting it all hang out. “Running Boogie means having fun and also bringing people together,” he says. “We get all sorts of people coming to us every week. We get religious and secular [people], people from English-speaking countries, former and potential backpackers, people in suits and ties – you name it. I think it says something about Boogie and about the atmosphere we have that such a wide variety of people all enjoy it. Listening to one another is very important too, not just having a good time.”
One of the first items on Sunday’s Purim roster is a talk by Rabbi Micha Goodman. “He is a very open and very learned man,” says Edri. “He is very approachable and communicative, and he appeals to all sorts of audiences. He will talk about the sources and where the whole idea and story of Purim come from. We don’t want to forget that the fun comes from a traditional source. That’s why we always have our Purim on the day we read the megilla, even if it’s a less convenient time of the week than, say, a Thursday.”
This isn’t the first time that Boogie has ventured out of its cozy home in the German Colony. “We’ve had Purim celebrations at Beit Avi Chai, and last year also had them at the ICC,” he says.
It was the latter experience that prompted Edri to go for broke once again. “It’s no simple matter moving up the scale from the 300-350 people we get at the ICCC. Last year we more or less broke even, but it was a wonderful event. The fact that over 2,000 people came to the Purim celebrations at the ICC didn’t make the event any less intimate. It was important for us to provide a comfortable, secure and well-serviced venue for the Purim event, but we definitely didn’t want to lose the intimacy of the regular weekly gatherings.”
Edri says that the feeling of intimacy has been an ever-present element of Boogie. “To begin with, all sorts of musicians and acting students came. The first time we held Boogie, we put a hot-water urn with tea and coffee in a corner, there was a small stage, we sold 62 tickets and people came to create and enjoy. We now get a lot more people every week, but the ambience is the same. I didn’t want to have a sense of emptiness at Boogie. I wanted to feel that something was happening, evolving, from the gathering.”
Edri’s description of a creative get-together with a clear spiritual and bonding content conjures up thoughts of the many New Age festivals that have sprung up here in the past decade or so, the likes of Shantipi and Beresheet. While not opposing the said festivals, Edri says that Boogie has a different line of attack. “In the age of e-mail, social networks and cell phones, Boogie really is set up to sustain some level of communication. When [Boogie co-director and musician] David Menahem plays the ney [Persian flute] – which he will do at the Purim event – people really listen to him. It’s not boom boom or a repetitive beat that is tailored to get people doing something specific and without paying attention to each other. People listen to David’s playing and they take that home with them and pass it on to others. That’s a great gift. It is sort of connected to the world of New Age but without going completely overboard.”
Edri says Boogie has maintained its across-the-board popularity over the years, and he looks forward to seeing a similarly eclectic crowd at the ICC on Purim. “Our youngest participant at Boogie is two years old and the oldest is 72. We also get mothers and daughters coming together.”
That family element will also be evident on Sunday. “There will be afamily slot before the megilla reading, to get everyone into the rightframe of mind and spirit,” Edri explains, adding that there will alsobe a certain element of laissez-faire in the program. “Sometimes youhave to feel your way through things. If you have too much borekas, youcan add some vegetables. We’ll try to be flexible during the course ofthe night as things progress. That’s what we do at Boogie: We alwaystry to listen to the things that are happening around us. When you dothat, you can improvise and change direction and stay in tune with theenergies around you. That works well with the weekly Boogie nights’success, and I think that will make the Purim event a success too.” 
For more information about the Boogie Purim event, go to or call 052-860-8084.