FRIDAY FEATURE: The one-day holiday of Purim becomes a weeklong celebration

Friday, March 17, 2006 | 
Israelis celebrated Purim this year in high style. Purim is essentially the Halloween of Israel – everyone dons a costume and hits the streets in celebration.

Purim is on the 14th of Adar. In walled cities like Jerusalem, “Shushan Purim” is celebrated on the 15th of Adar.) Though Purim is only one day (it was Tuesday in most of the country and Wednesday in walled cities like Jerusalem), Israelis started dressing up a week in advance.

On the Tel Aviv promenade last Shabbat, several little “ninjas” and “princesses” walked with their parents, two popular costumes for children this year.

In Jerusalem, school kids brought their costumes to school for a fun day in the classroom on Sunday.

On Purim, Jews remember how the Lord saved the Jews of Persia from annihilation, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. In general, Purim celebrates Jewish survival. Despite persecution and even attempts to annihilate Jews, the Jewish people have survived.

Purim customs include food baskets (mishloach manot, shlach manos), hamantashen pastries (Haman’s ears), a festive meal (seudat Purim), charity (matanot l'evyonim), Purim parades (adloyada), Purim plays (shpiels), carnivals (shuk Purim), costumes and noisemakers. The festive celebration makes Purim a favorite Jewish holiday for children and adults alike.

Wednesday culminated in parties around the country. Purim evening, the cities were virtual ghost towns as everyone was at their respective celebration, whether their Messianic congregation, synagogue or home.

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