Purim in Israel!

All decked out for Purim

Shira Feen Israel Correspondant

This will be my last post for a while, because I am going home for Passover.

I’ll fill you in about Purim. Purim was incredible, I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in Israel, the country just breathes happiness.

A few friends and I headed up north, to Tzfat, a city known for its spirituality. The city is filled with spiritual people and artists, wrapped in mysticism and mystery. It’s a city that is known to have its fair share of hippies. Tzfat has the highest altitude of all the cities in Israel giving it the most spectacular views.

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We ended school early the Wednesday before Purim as it was the Fast of Esther, and because those not living in Jerusalem had to leave to get home to celebrate Purim. Jerusalem celebrates Purim the day after the rest of the world so those living in Israel have the opportunity to celebrate this beautiful holiday twice. My friends and I jumped at this opportunity and that is why we went to Tzfat. We could have gone anywhere outside Jerusalem, and not traveled over 3 hours north, but we thought that the mix of such a fun holiday with such spiritual people would be an incredible experience.

So to start we left school as soon as it ended trying to catch the 1pm bus from the central bus station. We made good timing, the bus was actually running late. We waited for quite a bit, and as the bus came, it waved at us, told us it was already full and drove off. The next bus was only in two hours. The Israelis with us told us to call the bus company and try get another bus, but we had no luck. We decided with the 5 friends we had just made at the bus stop (a classic Israel scenario, making friends at bus stop. Often you even end up being invited to their house for Shabbat) to walk to the first stop on the bus route, so we would for sure get a seat. We waited at that stop for a bit, and then the bus came!

We pushed  on, and even still had to sit on the floor,we were still happy to be on the bus. About five hours later, and after a lot of traffic, we arrived in Tzfat. The whole bus ride was an experience, nearly the entire time, people sang Purim songs. As we got off bus we saw people going into a Megillat Esther Reading (the story of Purim). They were all dressed up, so we quickly through on the costumes we had brought, because we didn’t want to stand out. It was so cute, they made everyone dressed like queens sit on one side and everyone who was dressed like clowns sit on the other. We heard the Megillah, then we headed to where we were staying. We grabbed something to eat and helped our host make Mishloch Manot, the gifts you give to friends on this holiday. We threw back on our shoes and headed back out to explore Tzfat.

We basically just followed the music, the first Purim celebration we stopped into was at a Yeshiva. The students were dancing and everyone was so happy. We stayed there for a bit, then headed out to find the next celebration. The next Purim Party we found, was more family orientated, it was at Beit Chabad. There were a lot of kids there, we danced with the little kids, it was really sweet. In the middle of the dancing, the music stopped and they had a prayer circle, to pray for and to discuss how we could change problems in the world. After that we helped set up for the Purim carnival in Tzfat. We found a few other celebrations to join in, and then we headed to bed. We woke up quite early the next day. We had to take a 12pm bus back to Jerusalem, and we wanted to still have time to enjoy Tzfat. We went to Megillah reading and then started exploring. We went to the artist quarter, it was so beautiful, they had so many different types of art works all displayed in many galleries. We gave Mishloch Manot to different people we met on the street, they lit up with happiness. We danced with the elderly who were standing in the streets. Everyone we wished Happy Purim to returned the greeting with the biggest smile, it felt like a different world. After that we grabbed falafel and headed for the bus. It was a much quieter ride back, and we all got seats! When we got back to Jerusalem we headed for the Kotel, the western wall. There were many people praying in costumes, I thought it was a beautiful sight. Then we headed back to school!

Since we were keeping two days of Purim, we had to keep all of the laws of Purim twice. When we got back to school, we heard Megillah once again, and then the school put on a party for us. It was really fun, my dorm room all dressed up as cats for the party. In the morning, we heard the Megillah again, I threw on my costume (this time I was a bee while my friend was a lady bug) and then headed out to walk the streets of Jersualem and feel the holiday in the air. It wasn’t the same feeling as Tzfat but it was still really amazing. It was truly the best Purims I’ve ever had.