Ramat Hasharon's 'Adloyedet'

The central city is combining its 90th birthday with a mega Purim extravaganza.

Children dance at Ramat Hasharon parade (photo credit: Courtesy)
Children dance at Ramat Hasharon parade
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Exactly 100 years ago, Avraham Aldema had a terrific idea. An artist and an actor, Aldema decided that the fledgling city of Tel Aviv, rising amid the sand dunes, deserved something novel and colorful for Purim. As he recorded in his diary: “In 1912 I organized the first Purim Parade by myself. At first we simply called it a procession. I put all the Herzliya [school] students in threes, and at the head of the parade there was a student dressed as Mordechai, riding a white horse.
Another student, dressed as Haman, led the horse. There were also other characters: Esther dressed in luxurious clothes, the fat Ahasuerus, and other figures from the Book of Esther.”
Once it got under way, however, the “procession” encountered a bit of a problem. Inasmuch as Tel Aviv had been established only three years before, there wasn’t much of a route for the parade to follow. There was, in fact, only one main street. The parade route was thus no more than 350 meters in length, from the yard of the Herzliya School down to the end of Herzl Street.
Nonetheless, that first Purim parade consisted of hundreds of children dressed in costumes, and featured an orchestra and rudimentary “floats” of giant dolls. Tel Aviv residents, along with residents of nearby agricultural settlements, came in droves and Tel Aviv mayor Meir Dizengoff promised to come up with a budget to stage it again in the future. A tradition was born.
As the years passed, the parade got bigger and more elaborate. Dizengoff led the processions on horseback, and by the 1930s each new parade was organized around a central theme. More importantly, the event by this time had acquired its own special moniker after the city held a naming competition in 1932. Among the names proposed were “Purimon,” “Tel Avivon,” “Hinga Por,” “Tzahalona” and “Tahaluhon.” The celebrated writer Isaac Dov Berkowitz triumphed over these and more than 300 other suggestions by recommending “Adloyada,” from the folk belief that one should drink wine on Purim until one no longer knows – ad lo yada – the difference between “Blessed be Mordechai” and “Cursed be Haman.”
The Adloyada tradition tapered off during World War II and did not resume until 1955. Since then, however, the happy spectacle has spread to the main streets of cities throughout the country.
One city in particular has come to pride itself on having the biggest Adloyada in the Sharon region, and one of the largest in the country.
And that city, Ramat Hasharon, is presently gearing up to stage what promises to be the proverbial “Adloyada to end all Adloyadas” as it prepares to celebrate not only Purim but also the city’s 90th birthday on March 9. Organizers have even created a new portmanteau word – “Adloyedet,” out of adloyada and huledet, or birthday – to describe this year’s event.
Ramat Hasharon traces its beginnings to a group of Polish Jews eager to escape the confines of crowded Jaffa for the wide open spaces of the Sharon. “Ir Shalom,” or “City of Peace,” was established on a 2,000 dunams (500 acres) of land, purchased in 1922 at five Egyptian pounds per dunam. The first group of settlers arrived the following year, after an arduous three-day journey from Tel Aviv. With a population of 312, the village was renamed Kfar Ramat Hasharon in 1932. By 1950, the population of this still largely agricultural community – famous for its strawberries – was up to 900.
Rapid population growth occurred in the 1960s and ‘70s as Ramat Hasharon morphed from an agricultural village to a high-income satellite city of Tel Aviv. The city’s population at present is roughly 45,000.
Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzhak Rochberger notes that his city’s Purim Adloyada has already become a “national attraction” during the seven years it has been staged, and that this year’s “unique program” will be bigger and better than anything previously seen.
“All the events were carefully planned with an emphasis on safety, to ensure a happy and safe environment to all the residents and guests arriving to celebrate with us,” he adds.
Says Rochberger’s spokesman Gonen Eliasi, “It has become a tradition here over the past few years to make our Purim Adloyada the biggest one in the Sharon. Every Purim, thousands of people from all over Israel come to celebrate the holiday with the citizens of Ramat Hasharon.
And it gets bigger every year. Last year’s Adloyada drew 20,000 people from all over Israel. This year, combined with our city’s birthday, the celebrations will be bigger than ever.”
The carnival is scheduled to begin promptly at 10 a.m. on March 9 with a festive birthday celebration along Ussishkin Street, Ramat Hasharon’s main drag. Performances on five stages will crank up the party energy, including a children’s stage, three music stages with local musical ensembles, as well as a special African stage. Alongside these stages will be a colorful array of street performances by acrobats and gymnasts, drummers, capoeira dancers, and huge puppet characters – all spread out along Ussishkin Street in six performance areas.
The parade will kick off at 11:30 a.m., led by Rochberger and members of the city council, riding in decorated bicycle rickshaws and dressed up in colorful costumes as they distribute gifts and treats to the crowd. Among the parade floats, carried along on huge trucks, will be a cakes display, a band of mimes, a circus with clowns and a merry-goround, a display featuring dozens of colorful balloons, and a magic display with a real live magician and a giant wizard’s hat. All in all, upwards of 1,200 people are expected to perform or participate in the parade.
Although they acknowledge that while Ramat Hasharon’s Adloyada may not be the biggest in Israel – that honor, according to city spokesman Eliasi, goes to Holon – organizers are convinced this year’s Adloyada-plus-birthday bash will be “the most festive and spectacular Purim carnival ever seen in Israel.”
Be that as it may, if this is how they celebrate the city’s 90th birthday, one can only wonder what lengths they will go to celebrate Ramat Hasharon’s centennial.