Purim is one of the most colorful and happy holidays on the Hebrew calendar, commemorating the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews of the Persian empire according to the Book of Esther. It is celebrated every year during March, on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day following the victory of the Jews over the evil Haman. In cities that were protected by a wall during the time of Joshua, like Jerusalem, the holiday is celebrated on the 15th of Adar and known as Shushan Purim.

Today Purim is celebrated not only on those specific days, but throughout the whole week. The peak of the events this year will take place on the 20-22 of March 2019. If you’re not sure how to have fun this Purim, here are 5 ways to celebrate Purim in Israel:

Watch this video by Israel, that shows you a bit of the Purim spirit:

1- Attend a Purim Carnival

Purim is one of the most festive and happy holidays in Israel. Streets are filled with colorful decorations and costumes and cheerful music. One of the highlights of Purim is the Adloyada, the traditional parade that usually begins in the late morning – early afternoon and consists of dozens of people wearing costumes. “Adloyada” in Hebrew means “Until one no longer knows”. This is connected to what is said in the Talmud, that during Purim you must drink until you do not know the difference between “blessed be Mordecai” and “cursed be Haman”. In the Adloyada there isn’t much drinking, but I’ll write about drinking later.

Besides watching the Adloyada, you can watch colorful and vivid street performances that take place all around Israel.

2- Put on a Costume

Weeks before Purim, you’ll be seeing a wide range of costumes in the stores. People – children and adults alike – will be busy thinking about what they will be during the holiday – A princess? A butterfly? A superhero? Or maybe one of today’s celebrities? People love to dress up in Purim, and it is one of the holiday’s greatest traditions.

You can also buy or make yourself a costume and join the fun! There are many costume parties going on during Purim, which you can attend. Abraham Hostel Jerusalem, for instance, holds a Purim party every year, that also includes a costume competition with prices. You can book your tickets to the event here.

Why do we dress up during Purim? There are many possible reasons. Some say that the Book of Esther, which Jewish people read during Purim, is full of transfigurations. For example, Hadassah changes her name to Esther to hide the fact that she is Jewish, as Haman, the king’s chief advisor, wants to kill all the Jews in the Persian kingdom. Also, in Purim there is a mitzvah (precept) to give charity to the poor and the highest level of charity is to give a “secret charity”, so that the poor do not know who gave them the charity and the givers do not know to whom they gave the charity. That is why we dress up on Purim – so no one will recognize us when we do good deeds.

3- Taste Some “Haman Ears”

The “Haman Ears” (“Oznei Haman” in Hebrew and “hamantash” in English) are the traditional cookies of Purim. They are triangular shaped, meant to represent the ears of Haman, the villain in the Purim story, and are filled with all kinds of fillings, while the most traditional filling are poppy seed, dates, and chocolate. Every bakery that respects itself has “Haman Ears” weeks ahead of Purim and during the holiday itself, so make sure to taste a bit of this delicious cookie!

Watch how “Haman Ears” are made through this video by JewishPress TV:

4- Get Wasted at a Purim party

As I’ve already mentioned, the Talmud states that you should drink until you do not know the difference between “blessed be Mordecai” and “cursed be Haman”, that is until you reach a state of total intoxication. To fulfill this, many of the celebrators spend the whole night out, drinking and drinking and drinking in the various Purim parties throughout Israel.

Here are some of the top events of Purim 2019:

Jerusalem:

  • PURIM Pizdec Party – From March 21 at 9 PM to March 22 at 5 AM – get your tickets here.
  • Purim Party at the Terminal – March 20 starting from 9:30 PM – FREE entry. Check out more info in the Facebook event.
  • Purim Party at Blaze Rock Bar – March 20 starting from 11 PM – FREE entry. You just have to come with a costume. Address: 23 Hillel Street.

Tel Aviv:

There are many more parties taking place during Purim, so just ask around for more ideas.

This is how getting wasted looks like...
This is how getting wasted looks like…

5- Make a Purim Basket

An important tradition of Purim is to give charity to the poor, usually in the form of a Purim basket, which is a basket full of useful food items or accessories. But there is also a tradition to give a Purim basket to your friends, filled with sweets, chocolates and things that make your friends happy. If you want, you can make a Purim basket and either send it to charity or give it to your travel partner. I’m sure they’ll love it!

An example of a Purim basket
An example of a Purim basket

Happy Purim everyone!

For more info about holidays in Israel, read Holidays in Israel and How to Spend Them During Travel.

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Also, if you think anything is missing or have any more questions, please send me a message through my Facebook pageBackpack Israel or email me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

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Yours,

Lior