How is the Purim holiday celebrated in Israel? Here are several common Purim customs in Israel that can teach us how to celebrate the most festive Jewish holiday.
Purim 2022 will begin in the evening of Wednesday, 16 March, and ends in the evening of Thursday, 17 March.
This week, Jewish people worldwide are preparing gift baskets and hamantaschen cookies to enjoy the celebration of Purim.
Purim is a holiday that celebrates a story from the Jewish Bible’s Scroll of Esther. This tells the story of Esther – a wife of a Persian king who hid the fact that she was Jewish. As the story goes, Haman was a vizier (an advisor) to the king, and he wanted to exterminate all the Jews in the Persian Empire.
When the vizier went to the king, the king said, “Do what you want to these people.” Then Esther had a decision to make: save herself and keep her religion hidden, or reveal herself in an attempt to save her people. She chose the latter. The queen devised an elaborate scheme to convince the king that the vizier was up to no good. The way that the story ends is that instead of the Jews being on the receiving end of the violence, the vizier and his sons were hanged, and his evil plot was thwarted.
As Purim begins, Jewish people everywhere will commemorate Esther’s triumph with food, gifts, and fun costumes.
So, How is Purim Celebrated in Israel?
The most common custom in Purim is dressing up. The options vary from; a vine, a superhero, or just improvising something. When I was a child, I dressed up as a penguin, falafel in pita bread, a monster, a member of the band Kiss, and other fun characters.
On the holiday of Purim, parades are held in every town in Israel. The city hall closes the main streets, then performers and entertainers arrive and make everybody jolly. People like to take pictures of these parades and make it a family activity. Many food stalls are open – making it an exciting festival of food, costumes, and dance.
According to several Jewish sources (including the Gemara and Talmud), one must drink until he can’t make out the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai. Some sources limit this to a four drink maximum, but people tend to drink and celebrate a lot more.
On the night of Purim and the day after, most of the Jewish community in Israel read the Megillah (The Scroll of Esther) in synagogues. That can be very entertaining; every time they mention the name of Haman, people start calling him bad names (the dammed, the evil, and so on), and every time they mention Mordechai, they bless him (the hero, the great). The synagogues are decorated, making it quite a celebration.
Giving out Candy Packages
This is also known as “mishlohei manot.” Israelis give candy to one another in order to have a better sense of community. Just one should be enough, but people send a lot of them to many friends. The Israeli school system does it too, and everybody enjoys a holiday filled with candies.
A hamantaschen is a triangular cookie that can be filled with different jams. A popular one is strawberry jam, and it’s delicious. You can easily make some yourself and enjoy a sweet cookie Purim holiday.
If you’re in Israel during Purim and you like to party – you’re in for a treat. Thousands of parties are held all over the country, even in Kibbutzim. The parties start a week before and continue until the day after. There are various kinds of parties; theme parties, house parties, and club parties. You may well consider coming to Israel in March!
Purim Customs in Israel Are all About Making Noise
Jewish people celebrate their salvation during Passover, Sukut, Hannukah, and Purim. They are all miracles of the Jew’s salvation, time and time again. Some of their holidays are very similar to ours: Passover and Easter, Purim and Halloween, Shavuot and Pentecost. Israelis and gentiles have a lot more in common than we think.
If you’re interested in hosting Israeli travelers and even celebrating some of their customs, you might like to think about joining the Yesh app.