407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

When I was studying abroad in Israel 2 years ago, I was lucky enough to celebrate many Jewish holidays. Celebrating the spring holidays in Israel was incredible, and Purim was no exception. Purim has always been one of my favorite Jewish holidays. I love watching the elaborate Purim Shpiels (plays), eating the delicious hamentaschen, making costumes that I planned weeks in advance- it is all so festive and celebratory. But Purim in Jerusalem was a whole new level of awesome. 

The energy in the air during the weeks leading up to the holiday was so exciting. All the store fronts had racks of colorful, shiny, and textured fabrics on display (to purchase to make costumes, of course) and the stands in Machane Yehuda market were filled with fresh hamentaschen– I bought one every time I went. For someone who had never experienced Purim in Jerusalem, it felt like New York city at Christmas time. 

After a long day of classes my friends and I would take the bus from Hebrew University to Ben Yehuda & Jaffa Street to look for costume inspiration. I knew I wanted to wear a bright blue wig as part of my costume, but I didn’t know who or what I would be dressing up as, so I needed to 1). Acquire the wig and 2). Decide what my costume would actually be, based off of said wig. My friends found costumes that resembled Unicorns, Disney Characters, and farm animals. We were going all out this Purim. With the blue wig as the centerpiece, my costume was pop superstar Katy Perry. 

In the week leading up to Purim, my friends and I made Mishloach Manot baskets. This Purim tradition has always been so important to me and I love to do it every year. 

The night of Purim came in Jerusalem and we were headed to Machane Yehuda market for a Purim party! On a normal day, Machane Yehuda is crowded- it would be hard to maneuver your way through without twisting your body to scoot around people. But on Purim, there was an ocean of people. If you stepped too far to your left you could quite literally get swept away with the crowd of people. Everybody there was dressed in costume, dancing to music, and celebrating.There were children in strollers to adults with walkers present- this Purim Party was for everybody and nobody wanted to miss it. 

Music played all night and some people performed little dances and tricks as the crowd thinned. Through the air you could hear compliments on costumes, song recommendations, shouts of “Chag Purim Sameach!” and groggers shake if anyone dared to say Hamen’s name.

I love purim because it is so creative, crazy and communal in its celebrations. I will always look back on Purim in Jerusalem as one of the greatest celebrations I have been a part of. 

This Purim, remember to drink in so you can pour out.  Have fun and savor the celebration.