Stealing a march on purim

The milestone anniversary is being marked with an exhibition currently up and running at Hachava (The Farm) Gallery, in Holon, for two weeks, ending on March 18.

The story of Samson and Delilah enjoys pride of place in a biblically themed parade float (photo credit: ELI NEEMAN)
The story of Samson and Delilah enjoys pride of place in a biblically themed parade float
(photo credit: ELI NEEMAN)
The old adage about the reasoning behind some of our religious holidays goes something like: They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat. That is certainly the case when it comes to Purim, although when it comes to the forthcoming holiday, the saying should probably be augmented with “and make merry.”
While we are supposed to down four glassfuls of wine on Seder night, on Purim the alcohol often flows in much larger quantities. That can lead to – diplomatically put – a certain amount of revelry and hair-letting- down, which also comes across in public displays of a pervading feel-good factor.
That can sometimes take the form of off-the-cuff, jolly, raucous behavior, but there are also carefully orchestrated events that mark Purim, too, the biggest and most of colorful of which these days is the Adloyada parade, which has been taking place annually in Holon for the last quarter of a century.
Larger-than-life animated movie characters star in the 2003 Adloyada (ELI NEEMAN)Larger-than-life animated movie characters star in the 2003 Adloyada (ELI NEEMAN)
The milestone anniversary is being marked with an exhibition currently up and running at Hachava (The Farm) Gallery, in Holon, for two weeks, ending on March 18.
The layout was curated by Adloyada founder artistic editor Zipi Ifat, who has chosen a spread of works that provide aesthetically pleasing and fun pointers to the way the event has evolved since 1992.
“There are photographs from all the Adloyada parades over the last 25 years,” she says. “And I kept all the sketches for the sets.”
The exhibits include designs for displays that feed off the topic of the time, or the year, such as last year’s jubilee anniversary of the inception of TV in this country, with giant balloons featuring some of the iconic stars of the small screen, the likes of evergreen presenters Yaakov Ahimeir and Dalia Mazor, and talk-show host and comedian Rivka Michaeli, or more ad hoc themes such as children’s animated character Maya the Bee. In 2012, the main motif was “food children like to eat,” while the floats and displays in the 2002 parade was of a more global bent.
Ifat is quite rightly proud of the fact that her brainchild is still alive and kicking – and even prospering – at the grand old age of 25.
“Yes, it is noteworthy,” she says. “Even Tel Aviv had a few Adloyada parades, which ran for five or six years.”
Politicians provided some fun raw material for the 2013 Adloyada (ELI NEEMAN)Politicians provided some fun raw material for the 2013 Adloyada (ELI NEEMAN)
Ifat is keen to apportion credit where it is due. “You know, it is largely thanks to the Holon Municipality. The municipality took the decision to support the event each year, and I have had the honor, every year, to be responsible for the design.”
Ifat brings a wealth of experience and professional training to the job.
“I have worked as a set designer for many years,” she says. “I studied in Italy, and I specialized in parades and carnivals.”
Armed with the perfect set of academic and professional credentials, Ifat returned to these shores and began the search for a suitable vehicle for putting her skills to the test.
“I went around the country, knocking on the doors of the different municipalities, until I ended up at Holon,” she recalls. “It was the previous mayor [Moshe Rom]. He set two preconditions. He said there should be lots of children in the Adloyada, and that we should take new olim to help put the parade together.
The 2010 parade hailed Holon’s efforts in making culture available to children and youth (ELI NEEMAN)The 2010 parade hailed Holon’s efforts in making culture available to children and youth (ELI NEEMAN)
“That was in 1991, and there was the mass aliya [from the former Soviet Union]. Ever since then, the municipality has supported the Adloyada with great passion.”
The event also served to help with the absorption process of the olim, in addition to providing them with a foothold in the job market.
“They came here without knowing any Hebrew, and they gained a vocabulary on the job,” Ifat laughs.
The perennial artistic director and designer-in-chief says she was drawn to parades and carnivals for all sorts of reasons.
“Parades incorporate sets as well as costumes, and you also have to deal with a large number of ideas at the same time. If you have a show, you create a set, just one set, and that’s that. With parades, every display is different. They each have their own set design and concept. That’s something I really enjoy.”
That the event in question is of the alfresco kind also pulled Ifat in. “It takes place outside, and there is movement, and there are children and youth involved, and there’s community work, which I really like. All of that together is something I connect with strongly.”
According to Ifat, last year’s event attracted crowds of 120,000, and she is looking forward to a similar attendance at this year’s parade, which takes place on Sunday. That’s quite a crowd, and the onlookers, who come from all over the country for the day, will be able to marvel at floats sporting giant-sized figures, with the US president, naturally, providing fertile ground for creative ideas, including one in which he appears as Gulliver.
The lineup also takes in a bunch of dance groups, of girls of varying ages, who head to Holon from up and down the land. The law of market forces has it that, if demand outstrips supply, you must be doing all right.
The Holon Adloyada appears to be in pulsating health.
“The dance groups register a year in advance,” explains Ifat. “We can’t accept them all. The Adloyada is considered the most prestigious show to be in. The groups come to us from Kiryat Shmona all the way down to Beersheba.”
Topic trends have also ebbed and flowed over the years, and the scale has changed somewhat, too.
“The sets have grown in size,” says Ifat, “and, of course, we have added politics. That’s what journalist like, right?” she adds mischievously. “The materials we use have also changed.”
Although Ifat and her merry band of helpers have progressed with the times, in some areas they endeavor to stick to the roots.
“We haven’t introduced computers and lots of hitech stuff to the Adloyada,” the artistic director explains.
“And, as the parade takes place during the daytime, we don’t use all the amazing lighting devices they have around nowadays.”
The general ethos may be old school, but there have been some “concessions” made over the past 25 years.
“The music for the parade is more rhythmic now,” says Ifat, with the slightest air of resignation. “The music changes every year. They choose material that suits the subject matter, and, I don’t know, they make it more rhythmic. It helps with the marching.”
One of the most pleasing responses anyone can ask for when they put out some product or other is when they get returning customers. The Holon Adloyada seems to be capable of maintaining and stretching its consumer base.
“The other day a woman came up to me – I think she was around 30 years old. She heard I was the parade designer, and she told me that she’d dressed up as cottage cheese with the rest of her classmates. That was around 15 or 16 years ago,” relates Ifat.
Over the years, security threats and other unpredictable factors, such as the weather, have not managed to scupper the parade.
“There was just one year when there was a terrorist attack, and some Holon kids were hurt, so they postponed the Adloyada,” Ifat recalls. “But the weather has never stopped us. Sometimes there has been rain before the start, but the weather cleared before we set off.”
Someone up there must like the Holon Adloyada.