Purim in Israel

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Experiencing Purim Like New on My Semester in Israel


My journey into the heart of Purim began long before I traveled abroad for a semester. Back home, my exposure to this vibrant holiday came through the engaging and educational programs at my Chabad's CTeen program. Purim was portrayed as an array of history, tradition, costumes, and mishloach manot preparations. These experiences shaped my earliest impression of Purim. However, they only scraped the surface of what was to come.

Fast forward to my time abroad in Israel, and Purim took on new meaning. It was as if the stories we exchanged in CTeen appeared before me, but with an unexpected twist. The entire community, not just the youth, jumped into the festivities with uplifting energy. The entire day the streets became full of colors and characters. Adults, children, and even pets dressed up in costumes capturing the spirit of Purim in ways I had never seen before. The image of complete strangers gathering to celebrate Purim served as a strong reminder of the holiday's ideals of joy.

The most memorable sight was seeing a pair dressed as Mario and Luigi driving around the streets in go-karts. It was a scene straight out of a computer game, yet it was happening in real life.

This direct experience showed me that Purim is more than a historical remembrance; it is a living celebration of community. My experience at CTeen gave a basis, a beginning place from which I could comprehend Purim. However, experiencing it, feeling the enthusiasm in the streets, and participating in a celebration that embraces an entire country has extended my knowledge in ways I could not have expected.


Turning The Fun Into an Act of Kindness


During the festivities, a particularly emotional moment occurred when our program decided to turn the Purim energy into an act of kindness. We gathered to prepare mishloach manot, but they weren't your typical gift baskets. These packages, that my entire program packaged together, were headed for the local hospital, where we hoped to spread Purim's joy to people suffering from illness. The act of walking through hospital halls and distributing these gifts was a tremendous experience. Each smile and word of thanks from the patients we met provided a strong reminder of the holiday's core values: giving gifts to brighten the lives of others, even in the most unexpected locations.

The move from classroom learning to a fully engaged Purim celebration abroad has been eye-opening. It's a powerful example of how traditions can cross borders, bringing people together in a shared experience that is echoed by the laughter, creativity, and unity of a community in full celebration. This Purim, far from home, has not only made me appreciate the holiday more but also shown me the amazing variety of life and culture that exists beyond what I'm used to.


    Zander Pearlman is a Spring Semester student from New York.