Home » 5 Ways to Celebrate Purim in Israel

5 Ways to Celebrate Purim in Israel

by backpackisrael
Published: Updated: 9 minutes read
Rattle and the Megillah in Purim

Purim is one of the most colorful and happy holidays on the Hebrew calendar. It commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who planned to kill all the Jews of the Persian empire, according to the Book of Esther. It is celebrated every year in March, on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Adar. This was the day following the victory of the Jews over 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 is known as “Shushan Purim”. In 2024, Purim will be celebrated from the sunset of 23 March to the sunset of 24 March. If you’re celebrating in Jerusalem or other walled cities, it will begin on the eve of 24 March and end on 25 March.

If you’re not sure how to experience 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:

So how can you celebrate Purim 2024?

Attend a Purim Parade

Purim is one of the most festive and happy holidays in Israel. Streets are filled with colorful decorations, 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 includes dozens of people in costumes. In Hebrew, “Adloyada” 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.

You can attend an “Adloyada” in many cities throughout Israel, including Herzliyah, Holon, Ashkelon, Netanyah, and more. But even if you miss it, you can still watch colorful and vivid street performances that take place almost everywhere in Israel.

2024 update: Because of the current situation in Israel, some Adloyada events are canceled. 

Unlike previous years, Jerusalem has decided to hold an Adloyada parade this Purim (2024). The parade will take place on 25 March, from 10 AM to 2 PM. It will begin on King David Street, continue to Jaffa Street, and will end near the market. At the end of the parade, you will be able to enjoy a Purim party in the Nachlaot neighborhood, just behind the market. 

Put on a Costume

Weeks before Purim, you’ll be seeing a wide range of costumes in the shops. People – children and adults alike – will be busy thinking about what they want to be this Purim – 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.

On Purim, people walk around with their customes on the street, so feel free to do that. You can also buy or make yourself a costume and join the fun! 

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 (Jewish law) to give charity to the poor. 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.

A clown and a princess on Purim in Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem

Taste Some “Haman Ears”

The “Haman Ears” (“Oznei Haman” in Hebrew and “hamantash” in English) are the traditional pastries of Purim. They are triangular-shaped, meant to represent the ears of Haman, the villain in the Purim story. They are filled with all kinds of fillings, the most traditional fillings being poppy seeds, 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 pastry!

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

Get drunk 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 get totally drunk. To fulfill this, many celebrators spend the whole night out, drinking and drinking and drinking at the various Purim parties throughout Israel.

For a list of 2024 Purim parties, you can check out the parties on Eventer or on Secret Tel Aviv.

A drunk frog puppet on a bench, with bottles all around it
This is how getting drunk looks...

Give someone a Purim Basket

An important tradition of Purim is to give charity to the poor, usually in the form of a basket filled with 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 them happy. So, you can make a Purim basket and either send it to charity or give it to your travel partner or a friend you met while in Israel. I’m sure they’ll love it! And if you want an even more special experience, make a bunch of small bags of candy and chocolate and go hand it out in one of Israel’s hospitals. It’s a great way to make someone happy!

Chips, tea, chocolate, and wine in a basket
An example of a Purim basket. Pic from Wikipedia (Public Domain)

Bonus: Attend a Megillah Reading

One of the things we do on Purim eve is to read the Megillah, which is the Book of Esther. That’s how we spread out the story of Esther, who was able to save the Jewish people from the decrees of evil Haman. We gather in a synagogue or another public space, like a hotel conference room, and listen to the reading together. Every time Haman is mentioned, we use rattles to make a lot of noise and shout out “Boo!”

You can go to a central synagogue on Purim to experience this event. 

Conclusion

Purim is a great time to have fun and fool around. You can get into a costume, watch the colorful parades, join a crazy party, taste delicious Oznei Haman, or give someone a sweet present. Whatever you do, I wish you a very happy Purim.

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

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Lior

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